Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What everyone needs to know about Russian hacking

Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government have attacked a wide variety of American citizens and institutions. They include political targets of both parties, like the Democratic National Committee, and also the Republican National Committee, as well as prominent Democrat and Republican leaders, civil society groups like various American universities and academic research programs.

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Looking for Toussaint Louverture

I have a confession to make: I have a personal obsession with the Haitian revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture, which has taken me from continent to continent in search of the “real” Toussaint Louverture. My pilgrimage started outside Cap-Haïtien, Haiti’s second-largest town, in the suburb of Haut-du-Cap, where Toussaint Louverture was born a slave in what was then known as French Saint-Domingue.

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Does foreign meddling in elections matter?

Ever since the exposure of the covert Russian intervention in the 2016 US election, questions have arisen about the effects that foreign meddling of this type may have. Before these events transpired, I had begun studying the wider question, investigating whether partisan electoral interventions by the US and USSR/Russia usually effect the election results.

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Friends with benefits?

Before Theresa May decided to go to the country, the election result many observers of UK politics were most looking forward to was the outcome of ‘super-union’ Unite’s bitter leadership contest between the incumbent, Len McCluskey, and his challenger, Gerard Coyne – a contest which, rightly or wrongly, had been viewed through the prism of its potential impact on the Labour Party.

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The presence of the past: selective national narratives and international encounters in university classrooms

The question of how to remember past events such as World War II has long become official business. Governments, intent on sustaining unifying national narratives, therefore choose what and how the past should be remembered and told, for example through teaching history at secondary schools and memorials/museums. For how states choose to remember tells us something important about how they see themselves.

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The historical roots of Iran: an interview

In April 2017 Bridget Kendall, former BBC diplomatic correspondent and now Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, interviewed Michael Axworthy, author of Iran: What Everyone Needs to Know® about the history of Iran, the characterization of Iran as an aggressive expansionist power, and the current challenges and developments in the country today. Below is a transcribed version of part of the interview.

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American healthcare: are you an expert? [Quiz]

As technology and education become more broadly accessible, people are being exposed to more information than ever before. It’s easier than ever to choose convenience over reliability or accuracy—to search for symptoms on WebMD instead of asking a doctor, or consult Wikipedia for definitive answers to every question. All this newly accessible yet unreliable information has produced a wave of ill-informed and angry citizens.

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What to do with a simple-minded ruler: a medieval solution

The thirteenth century saw the reigns of several rulers ill-equipped for the task of government, decried not as tyrants but incompetents. Sancho II of Portugal (1223–48), his critics said, let his kingdom fall to ruin on account of his “idleness,” “timidity of spirit,” and “simplicity”. The last term, simplex, could mean straightforward, but here it meant only simple-minded, foolish, stupid.

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Britain votes…again: three crucial questions

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Britain would hold a general election on 8 June. The election raises three crucial questions. First, why did the Prime Minister call an election now? Under British law, she could have remained in office without facing the voters until 2020 and, in fact, had promised on multiple occasions that she would not call early elections.

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Let’s end the first hundred days

April 30th marks the one hundredth day of the Trump presidency. The media will be deluged with assessments about what Donald Trump accomplished — or didn’t — during his first one hundred days. But this an arbitrary, and even damaging, way to think about presidential performance.

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What we talk about when we talk about capitalism

For more than a century, capitalism has been the dominant planetary system for supplying people with, quite literally, their daily bread. It transformed our cultures and knit us together in a global network of buying and selling. But how do we understand it? How do we make sense of it? What do we talk about when we talk about capitalism? Recently we did a study to track talk of capitalism over two hundred years.

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Resisting change: understanding obstacles to social progress

The People’s Climate Movement, made up of dozens of organizations working to fight the climate crisis, held their first march in September 2014. On Saturday, 29 April, activists will once again march to demand climate action. As they protest the Trump administration’s drastic approach to climate change, the People’s Climate Movement will aim to “show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.”

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The separation of church and state in the US

While contradictory in many respects, the principles of separation of church and state, cooperation between sacred and secular, religious equality in the treatment of religion, and the integration of religion and politics combine to provide unique but important contributions to American life. In the following excerpt, Derek H. Davis examines the relationship between law and religion in the United States.

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Councils and juntas in early modern Madrid

Nowadays it’s not uncommon to think of meetings as a time-consuming chore, and it was no different in the seventeenth century. During the 1660s, the count of Castrillo would complain to his wife about the long hours that he had to spend in committees. He was sometimes too busy even so much as to go to Mass, and when he was finally allowed out of the palace it might not have been until the early hours of the morning.

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