Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Taking pride in standing up for the transgender community

At the beginning of 2017, following the tumultuous election season it was my hope that there would be few changes made to the years of progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights and equality. It was clear that prior to the election of 2016, the Obama administration, U.S. Supreme Court, and the Justice Department were committed to promoting social justice for LGBTQ individuals, and most especially the transgender community.

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Markets aren’t natural: governments have to make them work

hether we recognize it or not, “marketcraft” constitutes a core government function comparable to statecraft. By marketcraft, I refer to all the things governments do to make markets function and flourish, like corporate law, antitrust policy, intellectual property rights, and financial regulation. Marketcraft has profound implications for economic performance, social welfare, and national power – so we should want to get it right.

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Investment law leads to more investment: A faulty premise?

If a government ratifies investment treaties and provides foreigners with access to investor-state arbitration, they will receive additional foreign investment. This has been the premise of investment law for over 50 years. Is it true? Two decades of studies testing this premise have been inconclusive. Since statistics on foreign investment are notoriously unreliable, they are unlikely to provide a clear answer anytime soon.

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Covert action is theatre – and the curtain isn’t coming down yet

We are told that intelligence activities are eye-wateringly secret. Yet they have been surprisingly prominent of late. Senior politicians and armies of online bloggers alike are trading bitter accusations about dark arts and dirty tricks.  This is covert action: perhaps the most sensitive – and controversial – of all state activity. What is striking, however, is the visibility of the supposedly hidden hand behind recent operations.

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First they came for Josh Blackman: why censorship isn’t the answer [video]

Having been thinking, reading, speaking, and writing about “hate speech” over the last four decades, I had come to believe that I had nothing new to say, and that all arguments on all sides of the topic had been thoroughly aired. That view began to change several years ago, as I started to see increasing activism on campus and beyond in sup­port of various equal rights causes.

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Exactly what is our problem with the political class?

Right now, the British people do not like their politicians. A common target of this dislike is not a singularly unpopular politician but rather the so-called “political class,” a group supposedly led by career politicians who collectively feed from the trough of publicly funded political institutions, who fail to represent the public at large, and who are a noxious mix of self-serving indifference. The overarching narrative surrounding the political class often takes one of three forms: attacks based on who they are (their personal characteristics), attacks based on what they do (their behaviour), or attacks based on what they think (their attitudes).

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Considering the future of US-China diplomacy [excerpt]

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Sino-US relations have overcome an intense impasse, adopting a much more intricate relationship driven by interdependent economies constant competition. The following excerpt from The Third Revolution, Elizabeth C. Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations identifies ways that the United States and China might improve their diplomatic relationship.

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Are we to blame? Academics and the rise of populism

The social and political sciences have for some time defined their role in terms of intellectual critique and questioning. This chimes with the role of the independent scholar in terms of speaking truth to power and puncturing political pomposity wherever it is found. A confident and flourishing intellectual community of social scientists is therefore commonly thought to be a core element of a confident and flourishing democracy.

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Considerations for peacemaking and peacekeeping

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an increasing amount of attention paid to peacekeeping. Consequently, peace has generated considerable interest in the areas of education, research, and politics. Peacekeeping developed in the 1950s as part of preventive diplomacy. It has since become an essential component of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Peacebuilding has become embedded in the theory and practice of national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and regional and global intergovernmental organizations. Most regional intergovernmental organizations now have departments for peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

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Trust in face-to-face diplomacy

President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, are due to meet for a historic summit in an as yet undisclosed location to try and resolve the nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula. For academics that study the potential of face-to-face diplomacy to de-escalate and transform conflicts, the summit is a fascinating case for testing the validity of their theories and prescriptions.

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“The American People”: current and historical meanings

Virtually all US politicians are fond of  “The American People.” Indeed, as the ultimate fallback stance for any candidate or incumbent, no other quaint phrase can seem so purposeful. Interesting too, is this banal reference’s stark contrast to its original meaning. That historic meaning was entirely negative. Unequivocally, America’s political founding expresses general disdain for any truly serious notions of popular rule.

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Resisting doomsday: The American antinuclear movement

An aging TV personality occupies the White House. Representing the Republican Party, he denounces his predecessors for coddling the nation’s enemies. Not long after taking office, he begins rattling nuclear sabers with the country’s most dangerous nuclear rival, threatening complete destruction and promising victory in nuclear war. His rhetoric concerns people at home and abroad. Just as this description applies to Donald Trump in 2017, it also characterizes Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. A longtime critic of his predecessors’ détente policy, Reagan took a fierce stand toward the Soviet Union.

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A guide to the ISA 2018 conference

Founded in 1959, the International Studies Association is one of the oldest interdisciplinary associations, dedicated to understanding international and global affairs. With a world-wide presence and growing influence, the ISA is instrumental to the promotion and funding of International Studies. Their annual convention will take place between 4-7 April, this year in San Francisco.

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The death of democracy in Stump City

Some might say that in a world that is arguably defined by a complex set of global challenges (think food security, transnational organised crime, antibiotic resistance, sustainable development, etc.) you might think that the fate of a few trees in a post-industrial city in northern England is hardly worth the political equivalent of a raised eyebrow. You would be wrong. From healthy street tree stock to political laughing stock….

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What is allowed in outer space?

Humanity is no longer just exploring outer space for the sake of leaving flags and footprints. On February 6, the SpaceX Corporation conducted a successful first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, capable of carrying 63,800 kg (140,700 lb) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), a capability not seen since the Apollo era. As the rocket’s reusable stages can be refueled and reflown, this rocket is a significant innovation and not merely a return to past capabilities.

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