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Academic Insights for the Thinking World


Richard Cobden: hero of the Left or Right?

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of the great Victorian politician and ‘sage’, Richard Cobden, born in 1804, who died on 2 April 1865. Once a name familiar to every school-child, the prophet of ‘free trade, peace, and goodwill’ is now all but forgotten save among professional historians but he has spawned a diverse political legacy.

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The meaning of the Silk Road today

The Silk Road initiative, announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and implemented this year, contemplates so vast an investment in highways, ports, and railways that it will transform the ancient Silk Road into a ribbon of gold for surrounding countries. Multiple new trade corridors could potentially run through Xinjiang, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other […]

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James Baldwin and the fire this time

As the fires burned in Baltimore, following the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, protesters brandished placards with quotations from James Baldwin’s work, and thousands of blogs and twitter feeds invoked the legendary writer.

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Journal of Refugee Studies

Time to reform the international refugee regime

Europe is currently scrambling to cope with the arrival of over one million asylum seekers. Responses have ranged from building walls to opening doors. European Union countries have varied widely in their offers to resettle refugees.

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Separating Church and State

Since the 17th century Western thinkers have struggled with the problem of how to stop conflicts over religious differences. Not long ago, we mostly thought that the problem had been solved. Two rather different solutions served widely as paradigms, with many variations. One was the American Separation of Church and State, and the other French laïcité, usually if misleadingly translated as ‘secularism’.

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14764989 political analysis

Text analysis for comparative politics

Every two days, humans produce more textual information than the combined output of humanity from the dawn of recorded history up through the year 2003. Much of this text is directly relevant to questions in political science. Governments, politicians, and average citizens regularly communicate their thoughts and opinions in writing, providing new data from which to understand the political world and suggesting new avenues of study in areas that were previously thought intractable.

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Amartya Sen on poverty in India

Just before the release of his new book, The Country of First Boys, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen talks exclusively to the Hindustan Times‘ Manjula Narayan about our blindness to poverty, flaws of the Gujarat model, miniaturisation of great ideas by the Hindu right wing and interference in academia.

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Police shootings and the black community

In a recent Huffington Post piece entitled “Police Shootings Are About Class as Well as Race,” Jesse Jackson argued that the issue of police violence specifically, and an unjust and excessive criminal justice system in general, are disproportionately experienced by the poor, irrespective of race.

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From colony to modern state: a history of India’s foreign policy

Since the turn of the century, the number of scholars and practitioners with an in-depth knowledge of India has multiplied worldwide. Specifically, close attention has been paid to the country’s international relationships, international objectives, and policy implementations as a result of its relevance to a wide range of global actors. But what accounts for India’s rapid ascension to the global stage?

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OxBibs in African Studies

There are many excellent African leaders

A common perception is that the problem with Africa is its leaders. In 2007, Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim even created a major cash prize through his charitable foundation as an incentive to African heads of state to treat their people fairly and equitably and not use their countries’ coffers for their personal enrichment.

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Aylan Kurdi: A Dickensian moment

The international response to the photographs of the dead body of three year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore on a Turkish beach on 2 September 2015, has prompted intense debate. That debate has been not only about the proper attitude of Britain and other countries to the refugee crisis, but also about the proper place of strong emotions in political life.

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John Oliver, televangelists, and the Internal Revenue Service

John Oliver’s sardonic spoof of televangelists raises important issues that deserve more than comic treatment. Oliver’s satire was aimed both at the televangelists themselves and at the IRS. In Oliver’s narrative, the IRS acquiesces to televangelists’ abuse by granting their churches tax-exempt status and failing to audit these churches.

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‘Us’ and ‘Them': Can we define national identity?

Surveys show that a high percentage of British citizens “feel British.” But what exactly do people have in mind when they say this? People may think differently about this question, and perhaps it is also British to give various meanings to British identity. Still, can we define what it is to “feel” British? Or even what is un-British—be it a pattern of behavior, a belief, or a way of doing things?

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A snapshot of the jihadist movement today

Fighting terrorism is one of the few foreign policy issues that unites Democrats and Republicans, though of course both are quick to point fingers at any perceived failures or lapses. Yet America’s and the world’s leaders often do not recognize that the jihadist movement today is in flux, and the threat it poses differs dramatically from the 9/11 era.

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Prepping for APSA 2015

This year’s American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting takes place September 3-6 in San Francisco, where over 6,000 of the world’s foremost academic political scientists will gather for four days of lectures, sessions, networking, and scholarly discussion. This year’s theme, “Diversities Reconsidered”, promises to ignite intellectual discussion among all participants while still staying grounded in the current state of the nation’s political climate.

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