It was important not to give instructions, just to pass on the hard-won wisdom of street protest. Don’t be panicked into running away, even if the police bring horses. Sitting down is safe, if everyone...

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Later, Not Now: Histories of Emancipation

Christopher L. Brown, 15 July 2021

The British plantation lobby rarely receives credit for the skill with which it defended colonial slavery. For nearly half a century, slaveowners blocked emancipation schemes, neutered reform proposals...

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In post-Soviet Russia perfume was one of the luxury goods that symbolised the repudiation of Soviet puritanism. While Polina Zhemchuzhina’s attempt to bring perfume to the masses and rebrand it as...

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Thomas Becket​ was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to meet a violent end – Archbishop Alphege was killed by Vikings in 1012 – but he was unique in other ways. Unlike his...

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The world they sought to understand belonged to them all, and demanded that a gifted few should work together to interpret the writings of former ages. Alchemists resembled learned theologians poring over...

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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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Despite their obvious significance in the production of books, correctors were treated like manual labourers. One complained that he and his colleagues ‘would be off like a shot from this sweatshop’...

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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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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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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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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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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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