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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Shakespeare and Asia

When a weary Egeon laments in the first scene of The Comedy of Errors that in quest of his lost son he has spent five years “Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia,” Shakespeare is characteristically using the word only in its classical sense, to indicate the Roman province of Asia Minor, a territory roughly equivalent to that of modern Turkey. Shakespeare’s sense of the geography of the rather larger area we now call Asia, like that of many fellow-Elizabethans, is more vague.

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The Guru’s warrior scripture

The scripture known as the Dasam Granth Sahib or the ‘Scripture of the Tenth King,’ has traditionally been attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. It was composed in a volatile period to inspire the Sikh warriors in the battle against the Moghuls, and many of the compositions were written for the rituals related to the preparation for war (Shastra puja) and for the battlefield.

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Welcome to Sital Niwas, Madame President

Nepal has had an extraordinarily eventful 2015. It has been rocked by catastrophic earthquakes and burdened by a blockade from India, but it has also (finally) passed a new constitution and elected its first female head of state, Bidya Devi Bhandari, who took office in October.

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History of Eurasia [interactive map]

The history of Eurasia is vast, much like the land it covered millions of years ago. Over time the development, not only of European, Near Eastern, and Chinese civilizations, but also food production, the first use of gunpowder, and the cavalry took place.

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India’s foreign policy: Nehru’s enduring legacy

Any discussion or study on India’s foreign policy must inevitably come to terms with the extraordinary legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru. Even more demanding is the challenge of disentangling Nehru’s contributions from the unending current political contestations on India’s first prime minister.

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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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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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The garden palaces of Europe and Asia [interactive map]

In 1682, the French court moved from Paris to the former royal hunting lodge of Versailles, which had been transformed under the supervision of Louis XIV into Europe’s most splendid palace, one which moreover was set in a stunning park that stretched all the way to the horizon. Versailles established a fashion for palaces surrounded by ample gardens that most major European courts would soon imitate.

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Where is architecture truly ‘modern’?

Too often, we in Europe and the English-speaking world presume that we have a monopoly on both modernity and its cultural expression as modernism. But this has never been the case. Take, for instance, the case of sixteenth and seventeenth century urbanism in Europe and Asia. One can focus on the different ways in which classical precedent was deployed in Europe, teasing out the distinctions between the early and late Renaissance, not to mention Mannerism and Baroque.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

How well do you know Lao Tzu? [quiz]

This August we are featuring Lao Tzu, the legendary Chinese thinker and founder of Taoism, as Philosopher of the Month. He is best known as the author of the classic ‘Tao Te Ching’ (‘The Book of the Way and its Power’). Take our quiz to see how much you know about the life and studies of Lao Tzu!

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Commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s anniversary, the birth of a nation, and a new world

The fifteenth of August commemorates Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, and the birth of independent India, a historical landmark where he played a significant role. Aurobindo, the founder of Purna, or Integral Yoga, is a renowned and controversial poet, educationist, and literary critic, a politician, sociologist, and mystic whose evolutionary worldview represents a breakthrough in history. Nevertheless, what is the relevance of Aurobindo nowadays?

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OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: Lao Tzu

Lao (Laozi) Tzu is credited as the founder of Taoism, a Chinese philosophy and religion. An elusive figure, he was allegedly a learned yet reclusive official at the Zhōu court (1045–256 BC) – a lesser aristocrat of literary competence who worked as a copyist and archivist. Scholars have variously dated his life to between the third and sixth centuries BC, but he is best known as the author of the classic Tao Te Ching (‘The Book of the Way and its Power’).

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The Long Defeat

What can we expect at Japan’s 70th war commemoration?

As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan’s War, Japan’s “history problem” – a mix of politics, identity, and nationalism in East Asia, brewing actively since the late 1990s – is at center stage. Nationalists in Japan, China, and the Koreas have found a toxic formula: turning war memory into a contest of national interests and identity, and a stew of national resentments.

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Echoes of caste slavery in Dalit Christian practices

In the mid-twentieth century Dalit migration from the villages of southern princely State of Travancore to the villages in the Western Ghats hills in the north was reminiscent of Exodus, although we are yet to have substantial narratives of the difficult journeys they undertook.

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