Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Five fascinating facts about Leonard Bernstein and Japan

On 25 August 2019, which would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 101st birthday, the busy centenary year filled with performances, exhibitions, publications, and events comes to a close. Much of Bernstein’s status as a world maestro tends to be discussed in terms of his relationship to Israel and Europe, but once we turn our attention eastward […]

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Enoch Powell and the rise of neo-liberalism

The Conservative politician Enoch Powell is best known for his outspoken opposition to immigration, but he also adopted distinctive positions on a range of other prominent issues in the post-1945 era. Indeed, he was the most prominent early exponent of neo-liberalism, the free-market perspective linking economic and political freedom in British politics. Yet there has […]

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Do we unfairly demonise food processing?

Today, we constantly hear concerns about the dangers of processed food and it is sometimes portrayed as opposite to natural and healthy food. Is this warranted? What does ‘food processing’ even really mean? To a food scientist, food processing is any method used to make food safe to eat, enhance its stability, or change its form.

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The sense and essence of smell

This post owes its existence to a letter from our correspondent, who was surprised to discover that dictionaries call the origin of the word smell unknown. Not that two and a half pages later this origin will become “known,” but the darkness around it may become less impenetrable.

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How the Ebola crisis affected people’s trust in their governments

Legitimacy and trust fundamentally determine a state’s ability to effectively implement policies. Without legitimacy, governments cannot rely on citizens to voluntarily comply with centrally mandated policies, making their implementation costly and the provision of public goods inefficient. This is particularly true in the case of public health interventions, where adherence to recommendations of governments determines the […]

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The first gay president?

The topic of the sexuality of President James Buchanan has become a talking point in the media of late due to the presidential campaign of openly gay candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana. In that spirit, we turn to the life of our nation’s only bachelor president and his intimate personal relationship with William Rufus King of Alabama […]

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How women are fighting sexist language in Russia

Coal miners are predominantly male, and kindergarten teachers predominantly female. Professions are gendered, as any Department of Labor survey, anywhere in the world, illustrates. And until the 1980s, the nouns used in English to describe some occupations were also gendered, such as fireman, or stewardess. Feminists in English-speaking countries fought this largely by neutralizing male […]

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The future of humanitarian medicine

Humanitarian medicine aims to provide essential relief to those destabilized by crises. This concept, the humanitarian imperative, expands the principles of humanity to include, as a right, the provision of aid to those suffering the consequences of war, natural disaster, epidemic or endemic diseases, or displacement. Providing assistance to those in crises is a premise as […]

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Why American cities remain segregated 50 years after the Fair Housing Act

Fifty years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, large urban areas still remain highly segregated by both race and income. A report last year in the Washington Post concluded that that although the United States is on track to be a minority-majority nation by 2044, most of us have neighbors that are the same race as us.

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A 13-year-old scholar shares her research experiences

I noticed that sometimes after using a hand dryer my ears would start ringing. At first I didn’t really pay attention to it, but then I wondered if they were too loud, and that was why my ears were hurting. Also, I noticed that in many cases, when children were in washrooms with hand dryers, […]

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Eighty years of The Wizard of Oz

The summer of 1939 was busy for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of Hollywood’s major studios, as it rolled out The Wizard of Oz, a movie musical almost two years in preparation. The budget for production and promotion was almost $3 million, making it MGM’s most expensive effort up to that time. A June radio broadcast introduced the songs and characters to the public.

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Flatterers and bletherskites

Almost exactly twelve years ago, on August 2, 2006 (see this post), when the world and this blog were much younger, I mentioned some problems pertaining to the etymology of the verb flatter. Since that time, I have written several posts on kl– and sl-words and discussed sound symbolism more than once. There is little […]

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What went wrong with Poland’s democracy

Poland had been one of the most successful of the European states that embarked upon a democratic transformation after the fall of Communism. After joining the European Union, Poland has been held up as a model of a successful European democracy, with a reasonably consolidated rule-of-law based state and well-protected individual rights. And yet, this […]

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History of clashes in and around Jewish synagogues

One Sabbath day in the late-second century CE, a slave and future pope named Callistus (Calixtus I) entered a synagogue and, hoping to die, picked a fight with the Jews. For the opening salvo, he stood and confessed that he was a Christian. A melee ensued. But the Jews only dragged Callistus before Rome’s city […]

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Progressive black radio weighs in on Trump’s base

“Tom and Sybil, you guys lifted us up mightily for so many years,” said President Barack Obama to the Tom Joyner Morning Show anchors on 2 November, 2016. “I could not be more grateful.” Economic insecurity or racism? Immediately following Donald Trump’s shocking 2016 electoral-college presidential win, commentators rushed to explain the results by focusing on white […]

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Robot rats are the future of recycling

I just watched WALL-E for the first time in five years or so. It’s the story of a plucky little robot tasked with cleaning up the world by compacting rubbish into blocks and building structures out of the blocks to minimize the amount of land they take up. Of course, he falls in love and saves the […]

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