Social Science

Resisting the Narrative of Fear against Refugees

M. Jan Holton— Fear is a daily course in the life of refugees fleeing from war. Consider for example the citizens of Aleppo facing bombings, torture, starvation, and death. The title of a New York Times article about the final days before the fall of Aleppo says it all “We

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Knowing Through the Body

Guy Claxton— What are often called “higher mental processes” actually sit atop a whole lot of emotional and visceral goings-on. That is not a nuisance or a design fault; it is a deep part of our evolved nature as intelligent beings. To recap: at the core of our being there

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The Dilemma of the Sharing Economy

Carlo Ratti and Richard Sennett— In 1899, the American sociologist Thorsten Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. The phrase was double-edged: Veblen was critical of the wealthy flaunting their wealth, but he recognized that more ordinary people used goods and services

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Defining the Bigot

Stephen Eric Bronner— Understanding the bigot calls for a phenomenological sketch that explains why prejudice appeals to him, how he chooses his targets, and what impulses are common to his worldview. Quick dabs are necessary to shade his frustrations, brushstrokes highlight his way of thinking about the world, bold lines

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To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

Sasha Handley— Large swathes of the modern industrialized world are in the grip of a sleep-deprivation crisis. So say Jonathan Crary and Ariana Huffington, who represent just two voices in a chorus of recent critical commentaries highlighting the corrosive effects of our globalized 24/7 culture on sleep’s duration and quality.

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The Economic Implications of Citizenship

Andreas Fahrmeir— U.S. citizenship has emerged as an issue several times during this year’s presidential campaign. There were debates on whether birthright citizenship is (and should be) protected by the constitution, and concerning the relationship between birth in the U.S. and descent from a U.S. citizen in determining whether individuals

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Life during the Bangladesh War

Salil Tripathi— I was not yet ten when the first refugees from the country formerly known as East Pakistan began arriving in India. Our parents and our teachers told us how Pakistani military had declared martial law in East Pakistan, and thousands of troops had landed there. Many people had

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What Goes Around Comes Around: Our Faith in Karma

Sam van Schaik— …The logic of the text is causation: If you do x, then y will happen. This is, of course, karma. Every event comes about because of previous events. Moreover, every event sets up chains of causation that produce innumerable further effects. The Buddha’s teachings on karma take this

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The Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Modern Middle East

Neil Faulkner— A hundred years on from Sykes-Picot, the Middle East is in turmoil. These two things are intimately related. Mark Sykes was a British diplomat, François Georges-Picot his French opposite number. They gave their names to a secret agreement to carve up the decaying Ottoman Empire between Britain, France,

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Why Memes Matter for Feminism

Eileen Hunt Botting— Memes are a staple of contemporary popular culture, but most people would be hard pressed to define what exactly they are.  Simply put, memes are widely recognizable yet variously replicated symbols of ideas.  In the twenty-first century, most people associate the meme with social media, in which a

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