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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
Few could have imagined the elusive floral wonder retrieved in January 1837 from the heart of Guyana’s wildest jungles– and fewer still could have predicted the extent to which it would transform an entire continent’s cultural and aesthetic sensibilities.
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.”
By Natasha Zaretsky
In March 1978, Ada Smith, a fifty-six-year old woman from Memphis, sat down at her typewriter and wrote an angry letter to Tennessee’s Republican Senator Howard Baker. She explained that until recently, she had always been proud of her country, and “its superiority in the world.” But now her pride had turned to fear: “After coming through that great fiasco Vietnam, which cost us billions in dollars and much more in American blood, we are now faced with another act of stupidity, which, in the years to come, could be even more costly.”
By Ilan Stavans
The Hispanic world is in the news lately, and the news is mostly good. Latinos in the United States are a growing political force, and developments in Latin America are at the forefront of world affairs. To start with, Latinos, the largest minority in the United States (approximately 57 million strong and slated to double by 2030), are acknowledged to be the deciding factor in Barack Obama’s re-election.
By Virginia Garrard-Burnett
After the judge’s ruling Monday in Guatemala City, the crowd outside erupted into cheers and set off fireworks. The unthinkable had happened: Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez had cleared the way for retired General Efraín Ríos Montt, who between 1982 and 1983 had overseen the darkest years of that nation’s 36-year long armed conflict, would stand trial for genocide.
By William H. Beezley
Mexicans are celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) 1862, when at the Battle of Puebla, their troops defeated a veteran French invasion force. The battle shocked western leaders and military observers in equal measure. The Mexicans were viewed as ragtag, poorly-armed bandits rather than soldiers, and the French were considered by many as the world’s best-equipped, most-experienced army. As astonishing as the victory was, it did not end the French invasion, but only postponed it for a year until a second Battle at Puebla.
This Day in World History
Dressed in army fatigues and surrounded by supporters and reporters, 32-year old Fidel Castro took the oath of office as Cuba’s prime minister on February 16, 1959. He would remain in power for nearly fifty years.