Emerson in 1846. By Eastman Johnson, Longfellow House, Cambridge, MA.

Emerson and the Poets

Chris Townsend, Jan 14th

On Christmas day in 1832, the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson set sail from America to Great Britain. His goal was to meet some of his literary heroes, including the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth. Emerson’s encounters with the two great English-language poets of the day leaves us with two richly delineated portraits which Chris Townsend recapitulates: Coleridge as frantic and frenetic thinker, Wordsworth as calmly composed poet. But these encounters also cast light on a formative time for Emerson, as he transitioned from a period of turmoil towards his own time as a great writer of verse and an influential thinker, in no small part inspired by the British poets.

Recent articles

Fishing for Fairness

Chelsea Hayman, Oct 30th

Fishermen learn to set traps and nets to maximize their harvest, but the rules that govern these behaviors can limit their overall success. Commons management is appealing to our mind’s inclination towards systems that combine fairness and punishment. Both fishermen and sustainability-minded groups want fish stock to be preserved. However, argues Chelsea Hayman, formal conservation policy makes the greatest impact when it considers the significance of fairness and punishment in fishing communities and the breakdown of relationships and successes that occurs when these components are compromised.

‘Ecuador Bans Bitcoin’! A Monetary Mix-Up

Taylor Nelms, Oct 20th

When reports circulated in 2014 that the Central Bank of Ecuador had banned Bitcoin and planned to introduce its own digital currency, the focus on Bitcoin distracted from the world’s first publically mandated and operated mobile money system and the intense controversy that system provoked in Ecuador. As Taylor Nelms explains in this article in the ‘Future of Money’ strand, that controversy was linked to anxieties about the durability of money’s value. The anxities stemmed from Ecuador’s dollarization more than a decade before, pointing back towards the politics of value at stake in contemporary experiments with the infrastructures of money.

Solidarity Amidst Disaster

Red Samaniego, Oct 13th

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. government’s response to the storm casts a revealing light on the humanitarian crisis taking place on the United States’s southern border. Conditions that arose quite dramatically in New Orleans in 2005 – criminalization and militarization of the population, structural apathy toward heightened rates of gender-based violence, and the increased privatization of public institutions – are now prevalent in the border region as well. This article compares these conditions and suggests the possibility of a broader solidarity between disparate populations fighting against marginalization by the neoliberal state.

When long-termism masquerades

Victor Roy, Sep 14th

Do projections of future savings to society justify the seemingly exorbitant pricing of potentially life-saving drugs? Victor Roy takes apart the pharmaceutical industry’s often specious rationale for high prices: “Underneath a veneer of long-term thinking hides a more pernicious pathology of short-termism. [...] The most important reason for treating a patient—their chance at health—is lost amid all the arithmetic. The consequences are significant.”

Good without God. An Interview with Matthew Engelke.

Jonas Tinius and Johannes Lenhard, Aug 5th

Jonas Tinius and Johannes Lenhard interview anthropologist Matthew Engelke from the London School of Economics in this first piece for the new strand on the ‘Good Life’. Building on earlier research on what it means to be good for a Christian, Engelke talks about achieving a good life and happiness as a secular humanist in Britain today. In short, such a good life emerges through debate, contemplation, reason and argument – always in relation and conversation with others – and it comes now, in this world, as part of this life’s happiness. Engelke provides us with starting points to explore important questions about wellbeing, ethics, and a good life – without god.

Long-termism

Ryan Rafaty, Jul 28th

Few vices of contemporary life have been more publicly derided yet institutionally persistent than short-term thinking. “That social and economic planning with intergenerational foresight is a rarity in most parts of the world today,” Ryan Rafaty writes, “at the very moment when there is a ubiquitous surge in criticism of short-termism, should be puzzling. It should prompt some rather difficult questions about what kind of ‘long-termism’ we are after.”

Money is a technology (II)

Dave Birch, Jul 23rd

Threading together the push of technology, the pull of society and business forces to fashion a narrative about the future of money brings us away from an undeniably utopian Star Trek version and towards a richer and more complex (although not necessarily dystopian) view of the money that we will be using in the future. If we will be using money at all, that is, argues Dave Birch in the second installment of his article on the technological future of money.

Outsiders and Insiders: Reinventing Solidarity in the Baltimore Uprising

Chelsea Gleason, Jul 21st

This article examines the role of solidarity politics in the recent Baltimore Uprising, sparked by the death of Freddie Grey. Drawing from both on the ground observation and lessons from past social movements, the complexities of interracial solidarity and the role of ‘outsiders’, whether by racial identity or place of origin, is explored. From this exploration, a call for new visions of solidarity which challenge power dynamics and consciously unite intersecting struggles emerges.

Money is a technology (I)

Dave Birch, Jul 16th

Is technology going to drive money to a utopia or a dystopia? While technology is first about tools and not about how society chooses to utilize them it can create a direction of travel and nudge society along, however. Given the current direction —broadly towards decentralization, distribution and an overall lessening of state power—Dave Birch is inspired by social anthropology and the study of “paleofutures” to make an informed and surprising prediction.

Suspenseful Encounters of the Masochistic Kind

Darius Lerup, Jul 14th

Looking at Peter Strickland’s latest film, The Duke of Burgundy, Darius Lerup explore the vicissitudes of masochism, boredom and the ways in which they are brought together at the intersection between traditional narrative film and the avant-garde.

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The Blog

“Why Do They Riot?”

Sebastian JacksonDec 1

Hip-hop may seem divisive, but Sebastian Jackson argues that it brings young people together in this meditation on Hip Hop and pedagogy in rural America. In the wake of high-profile police killings of unarmed black people, mass incarceration, and “race riots”, hip-hop pedagogy provides a way for young Americans—both urban black and rural white—to find common purpose.

Buy to Let, and to Accumulate

Paul SagarNov 25

The UK housing market is booming – for the rich. Paul Sagar looks at how the exposition of buy-to-let purchases systematically channels wealth and income to those who are already well-off, at the expense of those who are not. And this, he argues, is no accident or inevitable economic outcome, but a direct consequence of government policy.

The peacock has landed

Charlie ArtingstollNov 13

The Peacock has landed. Today it was announced that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party have won a landslide victory in Myanmar’s recent elections. However, throughout her election campaign she has repeatedly downplayed the issue of the persecution of ethnic Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, and growing Islamophobia in the country. While – rightly or wrongly – this can be explained by political expediency, what is important is that the she and the party realize the power they have to reform the people of Myanmar’s views on the issue, and therefore the great potential they have to stop further suffering.

Sor Juana: An Icon of Freedom

Nikita SimpsonNov 5

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651?-95) speaks to us across the centuries as a woman who was driven by the desire to follow her greatest inclination, learning and the study of letters. Prof. Catherine Boyle and spoken word artist Amerah Saleh give us an insight into Juana’s strong poetry and share their inspirations with us.

Candyfloss for refugees

Jan BockOct 22

Berlin’s Muslim communities are taking an active role in supporting refugees, thus shaping German civil society and its responses to the arrival of hundreds of thousands fleeing war, persecution, and poverty. This new engagement is both an expression of, and a call for, emergent self-confidence among minority communities that redefine their role within German society. Jan Bock documents ethnographically one such initiative at the end of the Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, in Berlin’s Sehitlik mosque.

Twin Speak: Reflections Upon the Doubles in Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’

Chris TownsendOct 17

A basic function of artworks is that they hold a mirror up to our selves. Doubled figures in art therefore tell us something about that process of mirroring, and can make it explicit. Chris Townsend explores doubles in David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks, to begin to understand how a TV show can shed a little light on our own dual natures.

The nasty party is back

Christopher PrendergastSep 27

The Nasty Party is back. By this, Christopher Prendergast means the Disaffected Labour Party, the gaggle of MP’s, former ministers, shadow ministers, superannuated grandees, spinmeisters and hacks, collectively throwing their toys out of the pram over the prospect and then the actuality of the Jeremy Corbyn election. Prendergast takes the Trident issue, a debate over the UKs nuclear submarines, as an angle to look at the current state of the Labour party.

Home-Less

Johannes LenhardSep 22

A home is never a static entity; it demands continuous making and re-making, both materially and spiritually. Such home-making requires work and creativity – something Johannes Lenhard found during his work with homeless people on the streets of London and Paris. As more and more of the world’s population become displaced in search of new and better homes, it is time we deploy the same work and creativity in re-thinking the very concept of ‘home’. This article is the first in a new strand investigating the topic.

Youthful Indiscretions

Tobias HaeusermannSep 8

Tobias Haeusermann argues that by dispelling all the stereotypes of ageing we risk falling into the normative and crippling positive ageing trap. Rather than neutering old age for mass consumption, we ought to look at how stigmatisation and exclusion occurs within the cohesively imagined group of the elderly. And the only way we can release old age from its negative and normative straightjacket, is by becoming aware of how we, the old, are the makers of our own misery.

Solidarity

Theo Di CastriJul 3

A perplexing party in the East Village, New York, involving fashion models and Bangladeshi labour activists inspires Theo Di Castri and the King’s Review to explore the meaning of solidarity in the twenty first century.