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In the service of peace

May 29th marks the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, during which the world pays tribute to those who are serving, those who have served, and those who have lost their lives in the service of peace. Although peacekeeping was not envisaged in the UN Charter, it has become the flagship activity of the Organisation and perhaps the most innovative evolution within the UN collective security system.

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Heine_ Dogen and Soto Zen

Remembering Buddhas in Japan

Commemoration of the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha forms an important but relatively small part of a remarkable emphasis on wide-ranging types of memorials that continue to be observed in modern Japan. However, celebrations in remembrance of death, including for all deceased ancestors who are regarded as Buddhas (hotoke) at the time of their passing marked by ritual burial, generally hold far greater significance than birth anniversaries. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in Japan every year on 8 April.

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9780199943494

The unfinished work of feminism

These transnational feminist movements are rich and diverse. Their origins and struggles are located in anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, civil rights, anti-war, pro-democracy, indigenous peoples, workers, peasants, youth, disability, and LGBT movements, among others. They seek to transform patriarchal institutions in all their manifestations — from violations of intimate relations to the discriminatory and unequal gender norms of political, economic, social, and cultural institutions.

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Shoemaker - Responsibility from the Margins

Being true to your true self

Huckleberry Finn, when faced with the opportunity to turn in the slave Jim, is tortured about what to do. At first he leans in favor of turning him in, because Jim is someone else’s property. And as he was taught in Sunday school, acting as he had been toward Jim was what got people sent to hell. But he can’t stop thinking about Jim’s companionship on the river, and how Jim had been nothing but kind to him all along, a real source of comfort and friendship. So Huck, with trembling hands, finally declares, “All right, then, I’ll GO to hell,” and decides not to turn Jim in.

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9780190226879

Philosophie sans frontières

“East is East and West is West, and ne’er the twain shall meet.” Well, no. Kipling got it wrong. The East and the West have been meeting for a long time. For most of the last few hundred years, the traffic has been mainly one way. The West has had a major impact on the East. India felt the full force of British imperialism with the British East India Company and the British Raj.

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9780199688623

The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage

Today, the people of Ireland will vote in a Referendum to decide whether to include the following new wording in their Constitution: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.’ This may happen despite the fact that Ireland has a Constitution grounded in Catholic values. Indeed, abortion in Ireland is still constitutionally prohibited. Homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1993, and the option to divorce has only been available since 1995.

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9780199681648_450

Parkinson’s disease: the flip side of the coin

The human brain might be perceived as an organ with two main strategic tasks: goal-directed motor behavior, and mental functioning in order to work out that goal. These two main functions have two prototypical diseases: Alzheimer disease, in case of mental function, and Parkinson’s disease, with motor function. Following its inception as an entity, Parkinson’s disease (PD) was long perceived to be a purely motor disorder with unimpaired mental functions.

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9780198703297

How well do you know Shakespeare actors?

‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.’ Over the past 400 years, Shakespeare’s plays have been performed across the globe, in productions big and small. Many actors have tried their hand at bringing characters such as Hamlet, Othello, Puck, and Juliet to life. How well do you know some of the great Shakespeare actors and the plays they performed in? Test your knowledge with our quiz below.

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9780199688739

The genetics of consciousness

Nipple of a cat. Nose of a pig. Hair of a poodle. Eyes of a baboon. Brain of a chimpanzee. If this sounds like a list of ingredients for a witches’ cauldron, think again, for it’s merely a reminder of how many general characteristics we share with other mammals. This similarity in basic body parts has a genetic basis. So humans and chimps share 99 percent DNA similarity in our protein–coding genes and even the tiny mouse is 85 percent similar to us in this respect.

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Word Origins And How We Know Them

Putting one’s foot into it

Last week, I wrote about the idiom to cry barley, used by children in Scotland and in the northern counties of England, but I was interested in the word barley “peace, truce” rather than the phrase. Today I am returning to the north, and it is the saying the bishop has put (or set) his foot in it that will be at the center of our attention.

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9780199937776

Where was Christopher Columbus really from?

Of the many controversies surrounding the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus, who died on this day 510 years ago, one of the most intriguing but least discussed questions is his true country of origin. For reasons lost in time, Columbus has been identified with unquestioned consistency as an Italian of humble beginnings from the Republic of Genoa. Yet in over 536 existing pages of his letters and documents, not once does the famous explorer claim to have come from Genoa.

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9780198732501_450

Do we choose what we believe?

Descartes divided the mind up into two faculties: intellect and will. The intellect gathers up data from the world and presents the mind with various potential beliefs that it might endorse; the will then chooses which of them to endorse. We can look at the evidence for or against a particular belief, but the final choice about what to believe remains a matter of choice. This raises the question of the ‘ethics of belief,’ the title of an essay by the mathematician William K. Clifford, in which he argued that ‘it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.’

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9780199313396 - Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

A sugar & sweets music mixtape

Incorporating the idea of sweetness in songs is nothing new to the music industry. Ubiquitous terms like “sugar” and “honey” are used in ways of both endearment and condescension, love and disdain. Among the (probably) hundreds of songs about sweets, Aaron Gilbreath, essayist and journalist from Portland, Oregon, curated a list of 50 songs, which is included in The Oxford Companion of Sugar and Sweets.

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9780198703808_450

Companies House and the £9m typo

Conducting business through a company provides tremendous benefits. The price to be paid for these benefits is disclosure – companies are required to disclose substantial amounts of information, with much of this information being disclosed to Companies House. Every day, suppliers, creditors, potential investors, credit agencies and other persons utilise information provided by Companies House to make informed commercial decisions.

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9780199313396 - Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

The history of chocolate [infographic]

From its journey to Europe from the New World at the beginning of the sixteenth century to its modern-day iteration as we know it, chocolate climbed its way into the hearts and homes of people all over the world. In its long and fruitful evolution through time, we’ve pulled together a timeline of chocolate’s history from Europeans first encounter with the substance with the Aztecs through the Heirloom Cacao Initiative in 2014.

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