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Ayelet Zohar’s The Curious Case of the Camel in Modern Japan: (De)Colonialism, Orientalism, and Imagining Asia (Brill, 2022) traces the use of camels in the visual vocabulary of Japan’s definition of itself in the world―especially vis-à-vis “Asia―from the Edo period to the present.” In other words, Zohar uses representations of camels as a lens to …
 
Today I talked to Ted Conover, author of Cheap Land Colorado: Off-Gridders at America's Edge (Knopf, 2022) In May 2017, Conover went to Colorado to explore firsthand a rural way of life that is about living cheaply, on your own land—and keeping clear of the mainstream. The failed subdivisions of the enormous San Luis Valley make this possible. Five…
 
During the first half of the twentieth century, the French Basque province of Xiberoa was a place of refuge, conflict, and foreign occupation. With the liberation of France in 1944, many Xiberoans faced new conflicts arising from legal and civic judgments made during Vichy and German occupation. War, Judgment, And Memory In The Basque Borderlands, …
 
Margret Grebowicz's Rescue Me: On Dogs and Their Humans (U Minnesota Press, 2022) is a little book about the oldest relationship we humans have cultivated with another large animal—in something like the original interspecies space, as old or older than any other practice that might be called human. But it’s also about the role of this relationship …
 
In a podcast about books that have changed the world, I bring you the book that I think changed the world the most: The Hebrew Bible. Specifically, the first book of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis. The Book of Genesis is an account of the origins of the world, human beings, and the Jewish people. It is a foundational text for three world religions: Juda…
 
Listen to this interview of David Lindsay, emeritus professor of the University of Western Australia. We talk about his book Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words (CSIRO Publishing, 2020) and how your hypothesis can save the communication of your research. David Lindsay : "It's quite unfortunate that we're training our undergraduates in science th…
 
When she finds a feather, Grandma Dot adds it to her collection. Feathers, she tells her two granddaughters, remind Grandma Dot of people she’s lost. At first, the girls see the feathers as fun to play with. But soon, Grandma Dot’s feathers take on larger meanings – of comfort, remembrance, and love. A Gift of Feathers (Feiwel & Friends, 2023) will…
 
Teaching in Black and White: The Sisters of St. Joseph in the American South (Catholic University of America Press, 2022) discusses the work of the Sisters of St. Joseph of (the city of) St. Augustine, who came to Florida from France in 1866 to teach newly freed blacks after the Civil War, and remain to this day. It also tells the story of the Sist…
 
Human Rights at Risk: Global Governance, American Power, and the Future of Dignity (Rutgers University Press, 2022) is a fascinating book that brings together social scientists, legal scholars, and humanities scholars from both the Global North and Global South to provide a challenge to understandings about normative and empirical claims to human r…
 
Mary Channen Caldwell in her new book Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song (Cambridge University Press 2022) opens up new avenues for investigation by centering the refrain as an area of focus in which to analyze Latin songs through the Middle Ages. Throughout medieval Europe, male and female religious communities attached to churches, abbeys…
 
Virginia L. Summey's book The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts (U Georgia Press, 2022) explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919–98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African…
 
A bold reorientation of art history that bridges the divide between fine art and material culture through an examination of objects and their uses art history is often viewed through cultural or national lenses that define some works as fine art while relegating others to the category of craft. Global Objects: Toward a Connected Art History (Prince…
 
Advances in medicine have made possible better treatments for widespread, familiar human illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Yet there are thousands of much less common diseases, most of genetic origin, each classed as rare because it afflicts only a small number of people. These patient groups were long ignored by a pharmaceutical …
 
In October 1981, Hans Magnus Enzensberger gave the Institute’s James lecture, titled “Second Thoughts on Consistency.” Enzensberger, who died in November, 2022, at the age of 93, was a German translator, editor, author, and poet. He was born in Bavaria, and was just 15 years old when the Third Reich collapsed. After studying literature and philosop…
 
How and why do rebel groups initially form? Prevailing scholarship has attributed the emergence of armed rebellion to the explosion of pre-mobilized political or ethnic hostilities. However, this book finds both uncertainty and secrecy shrouding the start of insurgency in weak states. Examining why only some incipient armed rebellions succeed in be…
 
Jonathan Escoffery is the author of the linked story collection, If I Survive You, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and an Indie National Bestseller. If I Survive You was long-listed for the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and elsewhere, and is a finalist for the Southern Book Prize and the California Bookseller Allia…
 
In The Heresy of Jacob Frank: From Jewish Messianism to Esoteric Myth (Oxford University Press, 2022), Jay Michaelson explores the religious philosophy of the mercurial eighteenth-century figure Jacob Frank, who, in the wake of false messiah Sabbetai Zevi, led the largest mass apostasy in Jewish history. Based on close readings of Frank's late teac…
 
When used in India, the term Kala pani refers to the cellular jail in Port Blair, where the British colonisers sent a select category of freedom fighters. In the diaspora it refers to the transoceanic migration of indentured labour from India to plantation colonies across the globe from the mid-19th century onwards. Ashutosh Bhardwaj and Judith Mis…
 
In The Dead Won't Tell (Camcat Books, 2022), Abbie Adams is hired to write an article about an unsolved murder that took place in a small southern college town on the evening of the Moon Landing in 1969. She’d almost completed her doctorate but was derailed at the end, and instead became a journalist. She’s widowed with two teenagers, and the facul…
 
Bodies Out of Place: Theorizing Anti-Blackness in U.S. Society (U Georgia Press, 2022) asserts that anti-Black racism is not better than it used to be; it is just performed in more-nuanced ways. Barbara Harris Combs argues that racism is dynamic, so new theories are needed to help expose it. The Bodies-out-of-Place (BOP) theory she advances in the …
 
Humans love stories. And no collection of stories is more beloved worldwide than the Middle Eastern folk tales known as One Thousand and One Nights. The original collection only contained about 40 stories. It was compiled into a manuscript sometime between the 8th century and the 14th century during the Islamic Golden Age. The stories were made pop…
 
Aomar Boum and Sarah Abrevaya Stein's book Wartime North Africa: A Documentary History, 1934-1950 (Stanford UP, 2022), the first-ever collection of primary documents on North African history and the Holocaust, gives voice to the diversity of those involved--Muslims, Christians, and Jews; women, men, and children; black, brown, and white; the unknow…
 
For centuries, the Crusades have been central to the story of the medieval Near East, but these religious wars are only part of the region’s complex history. As Nicholas Morton reveals in The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East (Basic Books, 2022), during the same era the Near East was utterly remade by another serie…
 
Women played an essential role in the international struggle against fascism during the interwar period, though their work has been neglected in broader historiography. In Anti-Fascism, Gender, and International Communism (Routledge, 2022), Jasmine Calver provides a comprehensive history of the Comité mondial des femmes contre la guerre et le fasci…
 
Inspired by the lapidaries of the ancient world, Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones (John Murray/Penguin, 2022) by Hettie Judah is a beautifully designed collection of true stories/essays about sixty different stones that have influenced our shared history. The earliest scientists ground and processed minerals in a centuries-long quest for a my…
 
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…
 
While the story of women’s liberation has often been framed by the growing acceptance of pants over the twentieth century, the most important and influential female fashions of the era featured skirts. Suffragists and soldiers marched in skirts; the heroines of the Civil Rights Movement took a stand in skirts. Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe revol…
 
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