Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

All life is worth saving

Just as in Clarence Darrow’s day, the death penalty continues to be practiced in many American states. Yet around the world, the majority of nations no longer executes their prisoners, showing increasing support for the abolition of capital punishment. Recently, in December 2014, when the United Nations General Assembly introduced a resolution calling for an international moratorium on the use of the death penalty, a record 117 countries voted in favor of abolition, while only 38 nations, including the United States, voted against it.

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The continuing benefits (and costs) of the Giving Pledge

The recent news about charitable contributions in the United States has been encouraging. The Giving Pledge, sponsored by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Jr., recently announced that another group of billionaires committed to leave a majority of their wealth to charity. Among these new Giving Pledgers are Judith Faulkner, founder of Epic Systems; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani Yogurt; and Brad Keywell, a co-founder of Groupon.

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DIY democracy: Festivals, parks, and fun

Wimbledon has started, the barbeques have been dusted off, the sun is shining, and all our newly elected MPs will soon be leaving Westminster for the summer recess. Domestic politics, to some extent, winds down for July and August but the nation never seems to collapse. Indeed, the summer months offer a quite different focus on, for example, a frenzy of festivals and picnics in the park. But could this more relaxed approach to life teach us something about how we ‘do’ politics? Is politics really taking place at festivals and in the parks? Can politics really be fun?

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9780190217266 - Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement: What Everyone Needs to Know (WENTK)

Five things to know about Al Qaeda and Bin Laden

Despite Bin Laden’s death in 2011, the extremist group Al Qaeda has since survived and, some argue, continued to thrive. The effort and resources Bin Laden invested into Al Qaeda fortified its foundation, making it difficult, if not impossible, to disband or weaken the group after his death. But how did the terrorist group come to be what it is today?

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When politicians talk science

With more candidates entering the 2016 presidential race weekly, how do we decide which one deserves our vote? Is a good sense of humor important? Should she be someone we can imagine drinking beer with? Does he share our position on an issue that trumps all others in our minds? We use myriad criteria to make voting decisions, but one of the most important for me is whether the candidate carefully considers all the evidence bearing on the positions he advocates.

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India’s foreign policy at a cusp?

Is India’s foreign policy at a cusp? The question is far from trivial. Since assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited well over a dozen countries ranging from India’s immediate neighborhood to places as far as Brazil. Despite this very active foreign policy agenda, not once has he or anyone in his Cabinet ever invoked the term “nonalignment”. Nor, for that matter, has he once referred to India’s quest for “strategic autonomy”.

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Hope, women, the police panchayat, and the Mumbai slums

The Mumbai slums have recently achieved a weird kind of celebrity status. Whatever the considerable merits of the film Slum Dog Millionaire and the best-selling book by Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (now also a play and a film), these works have contributed to the making of a contemporary horror myth.

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Lesbian existence and marginalization in India

India’s first ‘lesbian ad’ went viral at the start of June this year. The advert featuring a young lesbian couple awaiting the arrival of one set of parents to their joint home is uncompromisingly ‘out’ even as it sets this exceptional moment in the everyday intimacy and domesticity that most relationships share. The ad is actually part of a new digital campaign launched by the brand Myntra for its range of ‘contemporary ethnic apparel’ called Anouk.

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How do we resolve reproductive material disputes?

Recent scientific advances have enabled us to have more control than ever over how and when we reproduce. However, these developments have resulted in serious legal discussions, raising the question: Do we lose the right to control what happens to our reproductive materials once they have left our body? Here, Jesse Wall discusses the courts’ different approaches for such disputes and the justification for their decisions.

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Williams-Ethics, Diversity, and World Politics

Islamic State and the limits of international ethics

The moral outrage at the actions of Islamic State (IS) is easy to both express and justify. An organisation that engages in immolation, decapitation, crucifixion and brutal corporal punishment; that seemingly deploys children as executioners; that imposes profound restrictions on the life-choices and opportunities of women; and that destroys cultural heritage that predates Islam is despicable. What drives such condemnation is complex and multifaceted, however.

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For refugees, actions speak louder than words

Calls for more to be done to respond to the plight of refugees will likely intensify as we get closer to 20 June, World Refugee Day, when groups in more than 100 countries will host events and issue reports to increase awareness about the needs of refugees and to mobilize a more effective response.

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The Democratic Party and the (not-so?) new family values

In 1970, archconservative journalist John Steinbacher seethed at what he considered the worst casualty of the Sixties, a decade defined by two Democratic presidencies, expanded federal intervention in what felt like every dimension of daily life and defiant young activists sporting shaggy beards and miniskirts rejecting authority of all kinds. Unable to withstand these seismic shifts, he despaired, the American family was in grave peril.

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Dispelling myths about EU law

What are the most common myths surrounding the laws of the European Union? We asked two experts, Phil Syrpis and Catherine Seville, to describe and combat some misconceptions. From the Maastricht Treaty to intellectual property law, here are some of the topics they addressed.

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Diplomatic History Cover

The ideology of counter-terrorism

An effective counter-terrorism policy requires the identification of domestic or international threats to a government, its civil society, and its institutions. Enemies of the state can be internal or external. Communist regimes of the twentieth century, for example, focused on internal enemies.

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14764989 political analysis

Using web search data to study elections: Q&A with Alex Street

Social scientists made important contributions towards improving the conduct and administration of elections. A paper recently published in Political Analysis continues that tradition, and introduces the use of web search data to the study of public administration and public policy.

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SIPRI Yearbook 2015

Oil, arms, and corruption: a poisonous nexus?

While world military spending has fallen slightly in recent years, some regions, notably Africa and the Middle East, have seen continuing rapid increases. When SIPRI published our annual military expenditure data for 2014 this April, we featured a list of the 20 countries with ‘military burdens’ – the share of military expenditure in GDP – above 4%. This compares with only 13 in 2005.

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