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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • History

How face masks can help us understand the world

When historians only focus on written sources, they risk missing vital aspects of the historical record. The material traces of the past, the things people have chosen, made or used, can offer important evidence allowing us to understand the historical value of the material world. We can understand the relationship between material culture and history […]

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How John Harrison invented the first portable precision timekeeper

It’s been over 50 years now since Colonel Humphrey Quill wrote his biography (1966) of the great pioneer of the marine chronometer, John Harrison (1693–1776). Since then, there has been a increasing interest in Harrison and the events surrounding his inventions and discoveries. Indeed, over the years, this interest has caused something of a stir […]

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The dividing line between German culture and Nazi culture

In November 1942, Anne Frank drafted a fictional advertising brochure for the rear part of the building in central Amsterdam that sheltered her and other Jews. Turning Nazi oppression on its head, she ruled that “all civilized languages” were permitted, “therefore no German.” Still, she was prepared to qualify the ban on the language of […]

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The history of Canada Day

Because they raise difficult questions about who we are and who we want to be, national holidays are contested. Can a single day ever contain the diversity and the contradictions inherent in a nation? Is there even a “we” and an “us”? Canada Day is no exception. Celebrated on 1 July, it marks the anniversary […]

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Why transforming higher education can promote racial equality

I was very active politically in the 1960s, 70s, and the early 80s. Life became more difficult in the late 1980s with the arrival of a third child, and as I focused to publish enough to get tenure in a large Midwestern university. Today, as I look back on that time, I struggle with two […]

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The 1968 riots and what Trump could learn from LBJ

The demonstrations that have spread across the country since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May unavoidably invite comparisons with the massive riots that occurred in more than one hundred cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on 4 April 1968. The most serious disturbances broke out in Washington, DC. […]

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Art and theater after Stonewall [podcast]

As we’ve seen over recent weeks, direct action is sometimes necessary in order to exact social change. On June 28, 1969 in Greenwich Village, a bastion for New York City’s gay community, a riot broke out after police raided the popular Stonewall Inn. The demonstration became the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ movement in the United States; it immediately led to organizing and the formation of gay rights groups in New York City, and the first New York Pride march occurred on the anniversary of the riot in 1970. The Stonewall riots truly transformed the United States of America.

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Remembering Anna Arnold Hedgeman

As we reflect on the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and on the continuation of white supremacy’s enactment through police violence, we might also reflect on the region’s histories of integration and segregation, community building and racism, which in the Twin Cities as elsewhere have long gone hand in hand. Take, for example, the […]

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Twelve books that give context to current protests [reading list]

Cities across the United States have seen ongoing protests since the death of George Floyd while in police custody on 25 May. Conversations are taking place on social media as well as in the real world, and media coverage has been relentless. We at Oxford University Press would like to highlight some of our books across politics, history, and philosophy that we hope can contribute to the important conversations currently taking place and provide valuable context. Where possible, we’ve made some of these books available at no cost for a limited time.

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How ancient Christians responded to pandemics

Ancient Christians knew epidemics all too well. They lived in a world with constant contagion, no vaccines, medieval medical practices, and no understanding of basic microbiology. Hygiene was horrendous, sanitation sickening. People shared “toilette paper”(a sponge-on-a-stick). Besides that, in the second and the third centuries CE, two pandemics rocked the Roman World. The first, the […]

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How a stork helped the UK get through the First World War

Harry Perry Robinson was elderly (age 54) and infirm at the outbreak of the First World War. But he was also a senior correspondent of The Times with a distinguished service record; a confidante of the proprietor, Lord Northcliffe; and a rabid patriot long convinced of the German threat to world peace. There was really no stopping […]

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The persistence of white supremacy 50 years after the Jackson State tragedy

In the early morning hours of 15 May 1970, the Mississippi Highway and Safety Patrol and the Jackson city police marched deep into the campus of the historically black Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi, leveled their weapons at students gathered outside a women’s dormitory, and let loose a 28-second barrage of bullets and buckshot […]

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The life and legacy of Florence Nightingale [timeline]

This year, to celebrate the role nurses and midwives play in providing health services across the world, the World Health Organisation has declared that 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. In honour of this, we are taking this opportunity to recognise the work of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse, statistician, […]

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War, memory, and morale during a pandemic

In a seemingly natural way, reports of societal responses to the COVID-19 crisis in Britain invoked the very familiar images of the Blitz and the wartime Home Front more broadly. Such images and representations are now everywhere: references to the “Army of Volunteers” raised to aid vulnerable groups; notions of the spirit, character, resolve, or […]

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What the Civil War can teach us about COVID-19

More than any crisis in recent memory, the coronavirus pandemic is changing how Americans understand time and imagine the future. Greater threats, like climate change, loom on the horizon, but they haven’t transformed time, because slower perils do not disrupt life and shutter society like COVID-19. During this crisis, familiar rhythms that structure time seem […]

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The city will survive coronavirus

In a recent essay, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman asked “Can City Life Survive Coronavirus?” It seems an apt question in this extraordinary time of mandated retreat from public life.  City streets and spaces normally teeming with people are nearly deserted now, evoking scenes from a Terry Gilliam film.  In an effort to slow the […]

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