Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Fifty years on: what has plate tectonics ever done for us?

In 2004, John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister in Tony Blair’s New Labour government, remarked, “the tectonic plates appear to be moving”, referring to the impending downfall of Mr Blair. Since then, the tectonic plates metaphor has been applied to just about every major political transition, including events following the UK referendum on leaving the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US President.

Read More

The Oxford Place of the Year 2017 is…

Our polls have officially closed and the results are in: our Place of the Year for 2017 is Puerto Rico. Although it was a tight race between Catalonia and Puerto Rico in both the long- and shortlist polling, the events that have occurred in this Caribbean Island in the past year have truly resonated with our followers who partook in voting.

Read More

Place of the Year 2017 Longlist: Vote for your pick

With the end of 2017 approaching, and in conjunction with the publication of the Atlas of the World, 24th edition, today we launch our efforts to decide on what the Place of the Year (POTY) 2017 should be. Many places around the world (and beyond) throughout the past year have been at the center of historic news and events, but which location was the most noteworthy?

Read More

Disaggregation and the war on terror [excerpt]

The early years of the 21st century are marred by acts of violence and terrorism on a global scale. Over a decade later the world’s problems in dealing with international threats are unfortunately far from over. In this excerpt from Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism, author David Kilcullen looks back on a time he was called upon to help develop a strategy for the Australian government in fighting this new global threat.

Read More

A Tale of Two New York Cities [excerpt]

New York is a city of many things to many people. But more and more those people are being divided. Those who have the means to live in comfort and splendor, and those struggling to survive in a once vast urban landscape that grows smaller and smaller with each year. In this excerpt from his book The Creative Destruction of New York City, author and urban scholar Alessandro Busà, gives us the lay of this new land where all are welcome, particularly if they can afford it.

Read More

Mapping Reformation Europe

Maps convey simple historical narratives very clearly–but how useful are simple stories about the past? Many history textbooks and studies of the Reformation include some sort of map that claims to depict Europe’s religious divisions in the sixteenth century.

Read More

Zebulon Pike’s journey across the Louisiana Purchase

On July 15, 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike departed St. Louis at the head of a military expedition to explore America’s public lands. The recently acquired Louisiana Purchase as yet held no states and almost no private property owners—at least not in the Lockean sense by which the country conferred exclusive individual rights to pieces of land.

Read More

Can green entrepreneurs save our planet?

Less than a year after the governments of the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, the United States has inaugurated a new president, Donald Trump, who denounces the whole idea as a Chinese hoax. How did we get here?

Read More

The new rock age

of the extraordinary things about our modern world is just how closely we are brought into contact with rock in everyday life. Now this might seem a little counter-intuitive. As I child, I grew up with cartoons such as The Flintstones and, a little later, sat goggle-eyed through films such as One Million Years BC. There the Stone Age protagonists acted out derring-do amid caves, craggy landscapes and erupting volcanoes.

Read More

British and Irish family names [infographic]

As the population of Britain and Ireland grows, some surnames are becoming even more common and widespread, alongside a steady continuation of uncommon surnames; but how many of us know anything about our family names’ origins – where it comes from, what it means today, and exactly how long it has actually been around for? Names derive from the diverse language and cultural movement of people who have settled in Britain and Ireland over history

Read More

The Mediterranean Sea and the migrant crisis [infographic]

With the Oxford Place of the Year competition drawing to a close, we’ve put together an infographic to explain why the Mediterranean Sea, geographic epicenter of the migrant crisis, earned a place on the shortlist alongside Aleppo, the U.K., and Tristan da Cunha.

Read More

The history behind selected family names in Britain and Ireland [map]

We all have a surname, but how many of us know anything about its roots – origin, history, and what it means today? Family names are evidence of the diverse language and cultural movement of people who have settled in Britain and Ireland over history. Surnames can be varied, but not uncommon – for example there a large amount of occupational names like Smith and Baker.

Read More

An Interview with Jörg Matthias Determann

When I first started researching historiography in Saudi Arabia, I came across many publications by government organizations, as they were the most readily available. At first glance, many of these history books told the same story: a narrative that focused on the royal family and its creation of a first Saudi state during the eighteenth century, a second Saudi state during the nineteenth century, and finally the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the twentieth century.

Read More