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Cuban cultural capital and the renewal of US-Cuba relations

This year, 2015, has been quite a year for Cuba. Starting in January with President Obama’s announcement that the United States and Cuba will re-establish diplomatic and economic relations, followed by Pope Francis’s visit to the island earlier this month, Cuba has been under the global spotlight.

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Catholics and the torture chamber

Argentina, 1976. On the afternoon of 3 August, Fr. James Weeks went to his room to take a nap while the five seminarians of the La Salette congregation living with him went to attend classes. Joan McCarthy, an American nun who was visiting them, stayed by the fireplace, knitting a scarf. They would have dinner together and discuss the next mission in Jujuy, a Northwestern province of Argentina, where McCarthy worked. Suddenly, a loud noise came from the door. Before McCarthy could reach it, a mob burst into the house. Around ten men spread all over the house, claiming to be the police, looking for weapons, guerrilla hideouts, and ‘subversive fighters.’

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9780199783281 - Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know (WENTK)

How has Venezuela’s foreign policy changed in the 21st century?

With the recent uproar surrounding President Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat, it is worth reading up on how this Latin American country has changed since the end of the 20th century. This excerpt from Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know by Miguel Tinker Salas examines the impact of the election of Hugo Chávez on Venezuelan politics.

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El Sistem: Orchestrating Venezuela's Youth

The other side of El Sistema: Music education, discipline, and profit

The Venezuelan youth orchestra scheme El Sistema is perhaps the world’s most famous music education program today. It’s lauded as a revolutionary social program that has rescued hundreds of thousands of Venezuela’s poorest children. Simon Rattle has called it “the most important thing happening in music anywhere in the world.” Classical music education is back in vogue, now aligned with the rhetoric of social justice.

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Earthquake at the lightning huaca of San Catequilla de Pichincha

On 12 August 2014 at precisely 2:58 a.m., a 5.1 earthquake struck, centered at the hilltop lightning huaca San Catequilla de Pichincha. Since this initial earthquake, there were fifty-seven aftershocks, all centered at or close to this hill. Cerro Catequilla is situated where the Río Monjas empties into the Río Guayllabamba, approximately 15 km north of Quito in the Pomasqui Valley directly east of the town of San Antonio.

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Countries of the World Cup: Argentina

In preparation for the finale of the FIFA World Cup 2014, we’re highlighting some little-known facts about the competing nations. For instance, did you know that Argentina is the fourth largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world? Or, that ninety-two percent of its population is Roman Catholic?

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Countries of the World Cup: Brazil

The Federative Republic of Brazil, also known by the spelling ‘Brasil’, is the world’s fifth largest country with a population of over 199 million. It has the honour and distinction of hosting the World Cup this year, a fact that had this fútbol-centric nation even more hyped than usual.

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The trouble with military occupations: lessons from Latin America

By Alan McPherson
Recent talk of declining US influence in the Middle East has emphasized the Obama administration’s diplomatic blunders. Its poor security in Benghazi, its failure to predict events in Egypt, its difficulty in reaching a deal on withdrawal in Afghanistan, and its powerlessness before sectarian violence in Iraq, to be sure, all are symptoms of this loss of influence.

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Football arrives in Brazil

By Matthew Brown
Charles Miller claimed to have brought the first footballs to Brazil, stepping off the boat in the port of Santos with a serious expression, his boots, balls and a copy of the FA regulations, ready to change the course of Brazilian history. There are no documents to record the event, only Miller’s own account of a conversation, in which historians have picked numerous holes.

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Photography and social change in the Central American civil wars

By Erina Duganne
Many hope, even count on, photography to function as an agent of social change. In his 1998 book, Photojournalism and Foreign Policy: Icons of Outrage in International Crises, communications scholar David Perlmutter argues, however, that while photographs “may stir controversy, accolades, and emotion,” they “achieve absolutely nothing.”

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Celebrating Women’s History Month

This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.

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The many meanings of the Haitian declaration of independence

By Philippe R. Girard
Two hundred and ten years ago, on 1 January 1804, Haiti formally declared its independence from France at the end of a bitter war against forces sent by Napoléon Bonaparte. This was only the second time, after the United States in 1776, that an American colony had declared independence, so the event called for pomp and circumstance.

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Argentina’s elections: A Q&A

In anticipation of Argentina’s mid-term elections to be held on Sunday, 27 October 2013, Political Analysis co-editor R. Michael Alvarez (Caltech) discussed some of the most important things that we need to know about this contest with Francisco Cantu (University of Houston) and Sebastian Saiegh (UCSD).

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Remembering the slave trade

By Jean Allain
Today is International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, established by UNESCO “to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of peoples”. That tragedy was the development of, in Robin Blackburn’s words, a “different species of slavery”. One that took the artisan slavery of old (consisting in the main of handfuls of slaves working on small estates or as domestic servants) and industrialised it, creating plantations in the Americas which fed the near insatiable appetite of Europeans for sugar, coffee, and tobacco.

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Cinco de Mayo and the insurgent taco

On the fifth of May, many in the US and Mexico will celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of the Puebla in 1862. In this excerpt from Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, Jeffrey Pilcher looks at Cinco de Mayo and the first written instance of the word “taco.”

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