What most people in the US call an ‘embargo’ – meaning the sweeping trade restrictions first imposed in 1960 and ratcheted up many times since – is known in Cuba as el bloqueo,...

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Global Morality Play: Selimgate

Helen Pfeifer, 1 July 2021

It is certainly true that the Ottomans have not always received due recognition for their impact on the modern world. They boasted modern Europe’s first standing army. They introduced the world not...

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Knife, Stone, Paper: Law Lords

Stephen Sedley, 1 July 2021

The modern relationship of the three principal elements of the constitution – legislature, courts and executive – doesn’t resemble the cogs of a working machine, or the delegation of...

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Short Cuts: Untilled Fields

Ferdinand Mount, 1 July 2021

‘This is certain – for I have noted it several times – some parts of England are becoming almost as lonesome as the African veld.’ This was Rider Haggard’s...

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Diary: Oxford by Train

Patrick McGuinness, 17 June 2021

The canals and rivers of Oxford aren’t working waterways anymore, but livelihoods used to depend on them. Oxford’s crest – an ox ‘fording’ three wavy lines of water –...

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Who started it? Nero-as-arsonist

James Romm, 17 June 2021

Nero’s responsibility for the fire is supported by very slender evidence, and as far as the lyre-strumming is concerned barely any evidence at all. But belief in his heedlessness or wanton destructiveness...

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Back to the Border: Ulsterism

Niamh Gallagher, 17 June 2021

If the influences of religion and region really do explain Ireland’s ‘two nations’, why did similar factors not result in partition in other countries with long histories of religious...

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Winged Words: On Muhammad

Tariq Ali, 17 June 2021

Muhammad never claimed to be anything other than a human being: he was a Messenger of God, not the son of Allah, and not in direct communication with him. The visions were mainly aural: the Prophet heard...

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Female husbands expressed their masculinity through their choice of clothing, names, behaviours and, above all, their labour and their marriage status. As tavern keepers, soldiers, sailors, mountebanks,...

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The unlikely union between a Fascist leader and a Jewish American opera singer offers interesting perspectives on Fascism’s evolving attitudes to race, religion, culture, gender and so on, particularly...

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Goethe in China

Edward Luttwak, 3 June 2021

To conquer Goethe, Wei Maoping must have recruited every qualified Chinese Germanist and translator there was, with only a few supplied by his own staff. An academic in the West, in a similar situation,...

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Megacity One: Life in Edo

Jordan Sand, 3 June 2021

The effort to situate Edo in the world, either by emphasising its connections to Europe or by situating the city’s history in a global chronology, suggests a reluctance to let Edo be what it was:...

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A Singular Entity: Classical China

Peter C. Perdue, 20 May 2021

The typical temple of Chinese popular religion contains multiple areas devoted to many gods, more like a circus model of culture than like the Temple of Heaven, where a single officer performed the sacrifice....

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Museums – and great art – were understood to give pleasure as well as instruction. The Enlightenment was concerned with the pursuit of happiness, not just for oneself but for everyone. The...

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Many of the mother and baby home residents were able to make new lives; some feel grateful for the refuge the homes afforded them. Children adopted by loving parents have thrived. But others experienced...

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Favourably Arranged: Horoscopy

Claire Hall, 20 May 2021

Ancient anatomists drew what scanty conclusions they could about the inner workings of humans from pigs and dogs; cosmologists speculated about the structure of the world without much evidence, or much...

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When was Hippocrates?

James Romm, 22 April 2021

Doctors today speak not only of a Hippocratic oath but a Hippocratic face (distorted by the approach of death), a Hippocratic bench (used for setting broken bones) and a Hippocratic manoeuvre (for popping...

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The Flower and the Bee: Many Anons

Irina Dumitrescu, 22 April 2021

Writing is not now considered a collective exercise. The Romantic myth of the lone genius persists. He is no longer always a white man – only most of the time. The black and white author photo is...

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