Tuning Into Each Other: Intimate Collaboration in Music-Making

Anita Datta explores the elusive procedure by which musicians come together to create the special and emotional product of human culture we call music. How do people singing in a choir, for instance, come to affect and respond to each other in the process of creating music?

How to Look at War: Michael Gove and the Fitzwilliam Museum’s La Grande Guerre

Exhibitions marking the beginning of the First World War are almost mandatory in British museums this year. At the same time, the question of how to remember or examine the events of 1914 has caused division, particularly following Michael Gove’s criticisms of academic history. In this article, the first in the new column ‘Picture Politics,’ Anna Blair looks at the Fitzwilliam Museum’s La Grande Guerre and the ways in which the prints on display serve as an exercise in examining detail, both attracting the viewer and deepening their awareness of the horrors of war.

Thinking Through Activism, Sexuality, and Scholarship

How can we respond to the challenges of combining activism and scholarship in regard to the topic of sexuality? This question is important when, in the context of continuing worldwide inequality, queer activists cannot allow governments and corporations to be the only entities acting at the global level. In particular, how are activists and scholars who are in some sense Western work for goals of social justice and make use of their privilege without having that privilege detract from the work of non-Westerners? In this article Tom Boellstorff discusses three possible strategies for responding to this state of affairs, based on his own experiences in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Money on either side of the poverty line

In the first column in the series Flummox curated by Polly Dickson, Johannes Lenhard juxtaposes two different ways of dealing with money, with cash. Diving into two ‘everyday’ encounters, he reflects on his personal observations among rich and poor. Wildly abstracting from the intricacies of the situations, he is surprised how the former are paradoxically afraid of cash, while the latter feel connected through touching, polishing, collecting and playing with coins and notes.

Did Somebody Say … George Orwell?

Owen Holland reviews 1984, Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan’s stage adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a co-production between Headlong, the Nottingham Playhouse theatre company and the Almeida Theatre. It will continue to run at the London Playhouse theatre until August 23rd. This article elaborates the current political resonances of the production in the light of some twentieth-century co-optations of Orwell’s novel. It comments on the decisions made in adapting the novel for the stage, keeping half an eye on Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian glass-world, the Bauhaus and Lionel Trilling.

Corporate Boards, Quotas for Women and Political Theory

Across Europe, the question of whether quotas should be enforced for the highest-ranking corporate positions as a means to addressing gender injustice is under vigorous discussion. Much of the debate has focused on the European Commission’s (2012) draft directive COM 614, which would place an “obligation of means” on listed companies to ensure that at least 40% of non-executive directors (or 30% of all directors) of each corporate board are female by 2020. Jude Browne (Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies) considers the philosophical arguments that underlie the main challenges to quota policy and concludes that a much greater emphasis should be placed on the structural causes of gender inequality in employing institutions. From this, Browne outlines the beginnings of an alternative quota policy: the Critical Mass Marker approach.

The Advent of Cryptocurrencies: A Reason to Rethink Currency in the 21st Century

Cryptocurrencies are another step in the evolution of a society in which mathematics and cryptography can replace or augment traditional trust-based centralized infrastructure in financial services and monetary politics. While flawed, they can serve as a catalyst for an important debate of the future of currency.

Related: read Johannes Lenhard’s analysis of alternative currencies.

‘Crisis ordinariness’: Grangetown, Middlesbrough

People in Grangetown have always been told to look forward, encouraged to do so by the production of projects and spaces intended to carry hope. But what is it that they should look to? Joshua Oware describes how people cope living in a community that has been dragged between habit and shock, a community continually told to ‘look to a future’ that always fades into indeterminacy.

Butterflies, Mimesis and ‘The Double’

Richard Ayoade’s film ‘The Double’ (2013) — based on the Dostoevsky novella of the same name — showcases the modern Doppelgänger: a figure who stems from a mimetic crisis. Mimesis, the urge to copy, to reproduce – in art, in nature, in all social interaction – is a project haunted by its own failure, by all the bits that copying leaves out. Ayoade’s ‘double’ figures out these left-overs. He’s a perfect copy, and he’s everything that isn’t: a figure made of semblance and alterity in equal measure, anxious proof of the phoniness of social identity and all our concurrent fears of replaceability and double-talk.

Accumulation and All That

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century raises a host of interesting questions about inequality and capitalist development. But how are his findings related to other trends, such as the rising equality of incomes at the global level? What use are grand-historical research projects to economists? And what is the importance of his plea for a smarter and more ambitious tax state?

The Doxa of Gillian Tett

An email exchange with Financial Times assistant editor Gillian Tett prompts reflections on the profit motive, technology, inequality and moral blindness. Tett takes the lead role, with guest appearances by Adam Smith, Silvio Berlusconi, and “Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc”.

On the moral void in contemporary China

The lack of an effective moral framework in post-reform China means that people’s daily activities are easily exposed to the anomic consequences of profit-seeking and unconstrained desires. The moral crisis underlies the crisis of the government that fails to be the moral exemplar for the people.

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