Thinking Through Activism, Sexuality, and Scholarship

Tom Boellstorff, Jul 23rd

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.

Recent articles

Fueling crisis or driving change? Disentangling our relations with destructive industries

Ragnhild Freng Dale, Jun 15th

With climate change already unfolding across the globe, Ragnhild Freng Dale argues that it is high time we, as a planet and as a university, wean our energy systems off the addiction to fossil fuels. We need to cut our intimate ties to an industry profiting from the destruction of the planet.

‘Crisis ordinariness’: Grangetown, Middlesbrough

Joshua Oware, Jun 9th

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’

Polly Dickson, May 29th

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

Nicholas Mulder, May 26th

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 City as Canvas: Detroit, MI and the problem of American exceptionalism

Alison Fornell, May 24th

Alison Fornell interrogates the impulse to fetishize Detroit’s postindustrial urban landscape and its socio-historical implications in her article, “The City as Canvas: Detroit, MI and the Problem of American Exceptionalism.”

The Doxa of Gillian Tett

Josh Booth, May 23rd

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

Jiong Tu, May 22nd

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.

“2014”: The Return of Big Brother

Eva Nanopoulos, May 21st

Legal scholar Eva Nanopoulos meets Jemima Stratford QC, one of two barristers who advised MPs on the legality of GCHQ’s electronic surveillance activities. She uses the opportunity to consider, via Orwell and Zamyatin, whether the legislation that seemingly authorises those activities is itself illegal under domestic law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Related: read our interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

Why do we treat ourselves less well than our pets?

Patrick Bateson, May 19th

Should people be helped to die? Professor Patrick Bateson weighs in on the enduring debate on the legalisation of assisted suicide.

A Ukrainian Thesaurus in Russian

Tanya Zaharchenko, May 15th

Today, the intricate relationship between Russia and Ukraine is, as ever, decisive for the future of this part of the world. And, as ever, it remains largely simplified as either antagonistic or fraternal. Russian‐speakers in Ukraine effectively topple this dichotomy, Tanya Zaharchenko argues.

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The Blog

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

Anna BlairJul 25

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.

Deirdre Bair, Simone de Beauvoir, and The Undivided Woman

Sarah Stein LubranoJul 24

Simone de Beauvoir is famous for her work on feminism, but Deidre Bair’s biography suggests that de Beauvoir’s relationship with philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was fraught with jealousy and self-sacrifice. Sarah Stein Lubrano writes that we shouldn’t be surprised.

Money on either side of the poverty line

Johannes LenhardJul 22

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.

How the North can learn from the South in building a welfare state

Johannes LenhardMar 31

A recent UC Berkeley #GlobalPOV video with professor Ananya Roy demonstrates that the issue of welfare dependency is just as bad among the middle classes and corporations as it is among the poor. KR editor Johannes Lenhard extends the case to Britain and links it up with recent ideas on the Universal Basic Income and the development of new welfare states in Asia and South America in this small blog-post.

Gilded Birds Interview: Thomas Adès

Gilded BirdsFeb 10

The composer Thomas Adès discusses his conception of beauty in relation to a photograph of his niece.

The palaver about Channel4’s Benefits Street and the significance of a Universal Basic Income

Johannes LenhardFeb 3

How could a version of the Universal Basic Income as debated in Switzerland potentially fuel a debate about the problems in the British benefits system? Commenting on Tobias Haeusermann’s recent article in the KR, Johannes Lenhard illustrates the case with his own research among homeless people in London and the current controversies about Channel4′s program Benefits Street.

Gilded Birds Interview: Christopher Prendergast

Gilded BirdsDec 19

As part of a series of reproductions from the Gilded Birds website, King’s Review presents an interview with King’s College fellow Christopher Prendergast.

Gilded Birds Interview: Jane Haynes

Gilded BirdsDec 5

King’s Review is pleased to present material from Gilded Birds (, a series of online interviews which each offer ‘a snapshot of contemporary ideals of beauty’. Jane Haynes, psychotherapist and author, discusses her husband’s photograph, ‘Dog and Grass’.

‘Catch it and talk to me’ – Flirting Tehran Style

Johannes LenhardDec 3

There are things happening in Tehran that even by Western standards are almost too creatively subversive to be true. And they are happening in the vehicles that Tehranis covet. During ’rounding’ – a form of car-speed dating – the intimacy that is typically banned from anything but the most private nocturnal spaces is partly able to return during sneaked daytime moments.

Destroying the universities

Paul SagarNov 4

It may surprise readers to learn that the government has spent the last three years persistently undermining and obstructing Britain’s seventh largest export industry.