We Want Free Higher Education: What Our Parents Had

Eric Lybeck sympathizes with the thousands of students who are going to be on the streets of London today protesting for ‘Free Education’. While declining public funding for universities and student debt are serious problems, Lybeck argues that the root of the injustice is not that wealth defines who can go to university or that working class students suffer over proportionately from paying back the debt. For him, the problem is that future generations will have to pay for what we think is a collective good.

The Allure of Real Work

While some might celebrate the decline of hard physical labour across “post-industrial” service-based economies, one of the prices we have paid has been greater uncertainty and anxiety about the ultimate worth of the work we do. Tom Barker questions the assumptions underlying talk of “non-jobs” and “bullshit jobs”, and in doing so asks us to interrogate our own definitions of what constitutes “real” work.

What’s food got to do with it?

The bulk of most nutritional science is methodologically flawed and yet continues to cause many unnecessary anxieties about our food consumption. Tobias Haeusermann argues that it is time that we shift our attention to the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to different food habits, and the privilege required to “eat well”.

A False Intimacy: The Policing of Women’s Body Hair

We find the sight of female body hair to be shocking, as it seems to fly in the face of the ‘acceptable’ norm. Drawing on her own research into self-defining feminist women and body hair, Melisa Trujillo argues that, when we attempt to police women’s bodies, we are overstepping a line, involving ourselves in a false, and sometimes violent form of intimacy.

Against the Idea of ‘The Cure’

The hope for a cure, a renewed absence of disease, is still one of the central legitimizing forces in the project of medicine. The promise of a cure inspires hope in patients and motivates doctors and researchers. But is it really a useful concept for guiding medical research and assessing the success of medical treatment? Konrad Laker argues that with the emergence of modern medical practice, the term may do a great deal more harm than good, unless fundamentally rethought.

On Civility and Academia

Norman Finkelstein gives an unconventional critique of really-existing ‘academic freedom’, recounts the bizarre story of Bertrand Russell’s 1940 dismissal from the College of the City of New York, and examines authors from Marx to Chomsky in his defense of the academic’s right to “break free of the shackles imposed by polite discourse… to speak the impolite and impolitic truth.”

Intimacy, Love, and the Body – Rethinking Helmut Newton’s Photography

Ten years after Helmut Newton’s death, a double exhibition celebrates his work in Berlin’s Museum of Photography. Exciting juxtapositions and breaks characterise both ‘Us and Them’ and ‘Sex and Landscapes’, inviting viewers to reflect on understandings of intimacy, the body, power, and desire. Works by Alice Springs complement his depictions of strong femmes fatales with more refined characters. Their works, as well as their portraits of each other, reveal important issues of representation and authenticity, perhaps particularly relevant for an age marked by proliferating images of naked (female) bodies, argues Jan Bock.

In Pornworld

Is porn making us dumber? More aggressive? More gender-conservative? Or does it liberate the erotic imagination? Porn inhabits an uncanny space between real and pretend, shaping preferences and behaviours beyond the screen. While high-speed internet transforms the production, distribution and regulation of porn, the public discussion about its merits, and its potential for harm, is mired in a decades-old impasse over the value of different forms of evidence. Katrina Zaat asks who sets the terms of the porn debate, and whether it is possible to reframe it.

What form does laughter take? Disturbing Reactions to Kara Walker’s Newest Piece

Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery has received a lot of attention, much of it problematic. It is Walker’s ironic enlistment of racist stereotypes that gives her work its power, but this can also lead to inappropriate laughter and racist reactions. Kyle Stoneman explores how we tackle race and female bodies in a museum setting, looking at the installation and its impact.

Why Can’t We Love Like an Albatross?

Certain species devote time to maintaining a relationship with their mate, often at great expense and in ways that seem to transcend basic reproduction. In exploring the wondrous world of animal mating systems, Alison Greggor explains the many parallels, as well as striking discrepancies, that emerge between humans and other species. These comparisons lead to a tantalizing question: are we alone in our capacity for intimacy and love?

Scottish tenements, English terraces

Although Scotland and England have been tumultuous neighbours, not least in the constitutional question Scotland has asked itself on September 18, their divergent residential architectures pose similar challenges and strengths. Andrew Hoolachan argues that our housing problem today is severe, but that we can create sustainable and affordable places to live without turning our backs on the intimacy of urban living.

What does it mean to have a right when you don’t know what a right is?

The Indian state has made significant headway in both welfare policies and neo-liberal economic development. They are well on the way to creating citizens out of the masses of people. In the column ‘Terra Nullius’, Nikita Simpson questions the narrative government officials spin particularly with regards to women and how in everyday life women are often not the empowered ‘nexus of rights’ the officials imagine.

Heroin and the stainless steel plane of the spoon

In the Flummox-column, Johannes Lenhard narrates Michael’s story begging, scoring and shooting heroin on the streets of London. Michael is an addict who cares for his drug, but he has reasons for this: on the stainless steel plane of the spoon, the drug cares back – something that he was denied all his life.

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