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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The optics of a cabinet reshuffle: PR vs reality

Reshuffles are a chance to revive the fortunes of a Prime Minister by changing the faces of their Cabinet and Government. January’s offered much but delivered less; the occupants of key Cabinet positions remained in place after all. May’s big beasts stood their ground, seemingly immovable; Justine Greening was the most prominent and the only woman to exit the Cabinet.

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Does nationalism cause war?

Nationalism is often blamed for the devastating wars of the modern period, but is this fair? Critics pinpoint four dangerous aspects of nationalism: its utopian ideology (originating in the late 18th century), its cult of the war dead, the mass character of its wars, and its encouragement of the break-up of states. I argue, however, that the case against nationalism is not proven.

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Nuclear deterrence and conflict: the case of Israel

“Deliberate ambiguity” notwithstanding, Israel’s’ core nuclear posture has remained consistent. It asserts that the tiny country’s presumptive nuclear weapons can succeed only through calculated non-use, or via systematic deterrence. srael must plan for the measured replacement of “deliberate ambiguity” with certain apt levels of “disclosure.” In this connection, four principal scenarios should come immediately to mind.

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Should Politics be taught within secondary school?

Despite the higher youth turnout than originally anticipated, it has been estimated that around one third of millennials did not vote in the EU Referendum. But could a better understanding of the European Union, and political affairs in general be achieved if Politics were taught more widely in schools? Would more young people be willing to engage with politics?

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Catalan language, identity, and independence

The Catalan sovereignty movement came to a head on 1 October 2017 in a beleaguered referendum declared illegal by the Spanish government, which sent in thousands of police and civil guard troops, used force against would-be voters, confiscated ballot boxes, and jailed civic leaders and elected officials on charges of sedition. The political crisis for the Spanish state as well as Catalonia continues.

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In search of political prisoners: A dialogue with Padraic Kenney

States around the world imprison people for their beliefs or politically-motivated actions. Oppositional movements of all stripes celebrate their comrades behind bars. Yet they are more than symbols of repression and human rights. Padraic Kenney discusses his new book, Dance in Chains: Political Imprisonment in the Modern World, which seeks to find universal answers to questions about the meaning and purpose of imprisonment.

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For the people, by the people: democracy in the US and India [excerpt]

India is the world’s largest democracy. However, despite its shared political system with the United States, India’s approach to human rights and foreign policy differs greatly from its Western counterparts.
The following excerpt from Our Time Has Come highlights the key differences between the American and Indian democratic systems.

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Beethoven’s Ninth at the G-20

The world leaders who had gathered in Hamburg, Germany, this summer for the twelfth G-20 summit on 7 July 2017 found an unusual item on their itinerary: a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony.

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Putin and patriotism: national pride after the fall of the Soviet Union [excerpt]

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin undertook the formidable task of uniting a restless and disorganized Russia. Throughout the early 1990s, the national narrative behind USSR’s regime remained unclear—causing national pride to deteriorate in the confusion. In the following excerpt from The Long Hangover, journalist Shaun Walker sheds light on how Putin used Russia’s victory in World War II to reestablish patriotism within the new Russia.

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The rise of female whistleblowers

Until recently, I firmly believed whistleblowers would increasingly turn to secure, anonymizing tools and websites, like WikiLeaks, to share their data rather than take the risk of relying on a journalist to protect their identity. Now, however, WikiLeaks is implicated in aiding the election of Donald Trump, and “The Silence Breakers,” outspoken victims of sexual assault, are Time’s 2017 Person of the Year.

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Emigration and political change

International mobility has been reshaping the economies and societies of countries over the course of human history. In Europe, during recent years, media and policy-makers have been focused on immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East who cross the Mediterranean Sea to look for opportunities in Europe. However, another important but much less noticed mobility phenomenon has been on the rise.

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To understand modern politics, focus on groups, not individuals

Modern politics seems very ego-centric. It’s common and rational to focus attention on particular individuals, or individual leaders, and puzzle over their actions.For several decades, the social scientific approach to politics also focused on individuals as the unit of interest to explain outcomes and behaviors. On the other hand, we tend to talk about politics in terms of relationships and networks.

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Good and evil: the role of smugglers in the migrant crisis [excerpt]

Since its inception in 2000, International Migrants Day has served as a platform to discuss human rights issues affecting migrants. This year, the UN is focusing on safe migration in a world on the move—opening up an international dialogue about how to ensure safe and systematic migration during times of instability. The migration system today is largely dependent on smugglers: as millions seek to escape violence and economic inequality, many become dependent on criminal networks to facilitate their transport.

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Human Rights Day: a look at the refugee crisis [excerpt]

Human Rights Day, held on On 10 December every year, honors the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a document which details the rights that all human beings, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or religion, are entitled to. The following excerpt from Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World takes a look at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an agency tasked with protecting the human rights of stateless people throughout the world.

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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.

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The Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine: a timeline

Between the summer of 1937 and November 1938, the Stalinist regime arrested over 1.5 million people for “counterrevolutionary” and “antisoviet” activity and either summarily executed or exiled them to the Gulag. This was Stalin’s “Great Terror” and, contrary to popular belief, the largest number of victims were not elites or “Old Bolsheviks,” but common people. Below is a timeline of The Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine.

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