Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Epidemics and the ‘other’

A scholarly consensus persists: across time, from the Plague of Athens to AIDS, epidemics provoke hate and blame of the ‘other’. As the Danish-German statesman and ancient historian, Barthold Georg Niebuhr proclaimed in 1816: “Times of plague are always those in which the bestial and diabolical side of human nature gains the upper hand.”

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Making sense of President Trump’s trade policy

Trade policy was a cornerstone of US President Donald Trump’s campaigns, both in the primary and general, and has often been a centerpiece of his agenda since in office. Trade policy is once again at the forefront with the recently concluded G-7 summit, largely revolving around the President’s threatened steel tariffs on Canada and the EU which followed recent negotiations with China over a possible trade war.

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Giving young people a voice: a follow-up on El Sistema USA programs

“Music is my life. I will never stop playing cello,” says Vanessa Johnson, one of the young people whose early experiences with music are featured in the book The Music Parents’ Survival Guide  (2014). Since more than four years have passed since it went to press, we are checking in with some youngsters to see how they are doing, focusing on those who participated in free after-school programs inspired by El Sistema, Venezuela’s music-education system which emphasizes ensemble playing right from the start.

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Wars of national liberation: The story of one unusual rule II

In the first part of this post, I discussed the chequered history of Article 1(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. This provision has elevated so-called “wars of national liberation” to the level of inter-state armed conflicts as far as international humanitarian law (IHL) is concerned—albeit only for the parties to the Protocol.

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Innovation: in and out of the Budongo

In 2014, PLOS Biology published an article about a cousin of ours, a member of the Sono Community of wild chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest in northwestern Uganda. In a video shared in relation to the study, an alpha male, NK, gathers moss from a tree trunk just within his reach, a prize he will use to lap up water in a nearby pool.

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Ten facts about dentistry

You use it every day; it’s a facial feature that everybody sees; and one that enables almost all animals to survive. We’re talking, of course, about the mouth.

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How ‘the future’ connects across subjects

‘Today’s world is complex and unreliable. Tomorrow is expected to be more so.’ – Jennifer M. Gidley, The Future: A Very Short Introduction From the beginning of time, humanity has been driven by a paradox: fearing the unknown but with a constant curiosity to know. Over time, science and technology have developed, meaning that we […]

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Animal of the Month: 4 figures behind orca captivation beyond Blackfish

“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince (1943). The 2013 release of the documentary Blackfish revolutionized the way the world has since focused on orcas. Yet orca captivity in the United States and Canada predates the documentary by almost five decades. So who was behind the plight of these orcas? Using Jason M. Colby’s Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the World’s Greatest Predator,  we compiled a list of figures behind the half century of orca captivity beyond Blackfish.

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One-sided etymology

There is a feeling that idioms resist interference. A red herring cannot change its color any more than the leopard can change its spots. And yet variation here is common. For instance, talk a blue streak coexists with swear (curse) a blue streak. One even finds to swear like blue blazes (only the color remains intact). A drop in the bucket means the same as a drop in the ocean. We can cut something to bits or to pieces, and so forth.

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Celebrating the Fields Medal [infographic]

This year, 2018, sees the world’s mathematics community come together once more at the International Congress of Mathematicians, hosted for the first time in South America in Rio de Janeiro. A highlight at every ICM is the announcement of the recipients of the Fields Medal, an award that honours up to four mathematicians under the age of 40, and is viewed as one of the highest honours a mathematician can receive. Here we honour past Fields Medal winners who we are proud to name as our authors. Hover over each name to learn a little more about who they are and what their contributions have been.

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Isobel and me: medieval sanctuary and Whig history

For the last fifteen years I have been having an intense dialogue in my head with a long-dead historian, Isobel D. Thornley (1893-1941). Isobel is my best frenemy. Two pieces she wrote in 1924 and 1932 remain standard citations for one of my favourite subjects, medieval sanctuary; this is a feat of scholarly longevity that few of her contemporaries can boast.

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Find the missing millions

A young man in my clinic avoids eye contact. Peaked cap pulled low, he directs his unfocused gaze into a corner of the room. Recently diagnosed with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, he doesn’t know whether to believe this news, how to process it, or what it means for his future.

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How Oscar Wilde got his big break

In the late 1870s, when he was still a student, Oscar Wilde gathered his college friends for a late night chat in his Oxford room. The conversation was drifting to serious topics.
“You talk a lot about yourself, Oscar,” one of them said, “and all the things you’d like to achieve. But you never say what you’re going to do with your life.”

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Living with hysteria: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wall-Paper”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the semiautobiographical short story, “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” was a first-wave feminist determined to live a fully actualized life of work for the common good. Born in Connecticut in 1860, she was a lecturer on ethics, labor, and feminism, and was also the niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Charlotte grew up in poverty and was particularly interested in bettering the economic straits of women. Her family moved so often that she was largely home-schooled and self-taught.

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Wars of national liberation: The story of one unusual rule I

If someone was to make a ranking of the most controversial rules of international law, Article 1(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions would very likely make the top 10. The Geneva Conventions themselves probably need little introduction; these four international treaties were adopted in the aftermath of World War II and now form the core of international humanitarian law (IHL).

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Who discovered Newton’s Laws?

Newton’s famous remark, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” is not in his published work, but comes from a letter to a colleague and competitor. In context, it reads simply as an elaborately polite acknowledgment of previous work on optics, especially the work of the recipient of the letter, Robert Hooke. 

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