Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Subtopics

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.

Read More

Child’s play: pioneers of child psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis, a therapeutic method for treating mental health issues, explores the interaction of the conscious and unconscious elements of the mind. Originating with Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, the practice has evolved exponentially in terms of both treatment and research applications. Much of Freud’s theory acknowledged that childhood experiences often affect individuals later in life, which was expanded upon by analysts who believed that mental health issues can affect individuals at all stages of their life.

Read More

The challenges of training future surgeons in the current NHS

Following the publication of the Government consultation Modernising Medical Careers in 2003, UK postgraduate medical training for doctors has been extensively reformed. These reforms have resulted in a competence-based training system, centred on a structured syllabus that defines the knowledge, professional behaviours, core clinical procedures, and clinical performance required for training.

Read More

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.

Read More

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).

Read More

Embracing the cattle

A story that keeps recycling the same episodes tends to become boring.  So today I’ll say goodbye to my horned friends, though there is so much left that is of interest. In dealing with cows, bulls, bucks, and the rest, an etymologist is constantly made to choose among three possibilities: an ancient root with a transparent etymology (a rare case), a migratory word, or a sound-imitative formation. Like cattle breeders, words are nomads, but some are more sedentary than the others.

Read More

America’s neglected conflict: The First World War

Ask an American what comes to mind about the First World War and the response is likely to be “not very much,” and certainly less than about World War II. Perhaps that is to be expected, given the different circumstances under which the United States entered the two wars. In 1941 the choice was inescapable after the searing experience of Pearl Harbor.

Read More

Five key underlying drivers of the opioid crisis

The War on Drugs got it wrong. When President Nixon launched the “War on Drugs” in 1971, he framed the way we would view drug epidemics moving forward: as a moral issue. The “war” cast people struggling with addiction as criminals and degenerates to be dealt with by the criminal justice system. But law enforcement solutions have failed to curb addiction, and have further contributed to harming communities already experiencing deep levels of trauma, particularly communities of color.

Read More

What does it take to be a non-state armed group?

Armed groups are involved in the vast majority of today’s armed conflicts and crisis situations, and this trend is likely to continue. It is suggested that over recent years the number of groups involved in armed conflicts has quadrupled. For instance, studies have found that at some point, hundreds or even thousands of different armed groups operated in Syria.

Read More

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.

Read More

Preparing for disasters: a corporate catastrophe checklist

Facebook has been in the hot seat since it came to light that personal data on as many 87 million users, mostly in the U.S., had been improperly acquired by Cambridge Analytica for use in the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged as well that “malicious” outsiders may have accessed profiles of most of his two billion users. In the wake of Facebook’s enormous cyber-lapse, Congress investigated, users fled, and its stock plummeted, the makings of a genuine company disaster.

Read More

Mexican Women’s Self-Expression through Dress – Episode 43 – The Oxford Comment

Our host for this episode is William Beezley, Professor of History at the University of Arizona and Editor in Chief of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. He moderates a roundtable discussion with historians Stephanie Wood and Susie Porter about Mexican women’s self-expression through textiles and dress throughout history to the present day.

Read More

How the intention to share photos can undermine enjoyment

Though people both take and share more photos than ever before, we know very little about how different reasons for taking photos impact people’s actual experiences. For instance, when touring a city, some people take photos to share with others (e.g., to post on Facebook), while others take photos for themselves (e.g., to remember an experience later on). Will those who take photos to share enjoy the experience more or less than those who take photos for themselves? How do people’s goals for taking photos impact their enjoyment of photographed experiences?

Read More

Animal of the Month: 11 facts about koalas

Koalas: the adorable fluffy mascots of Australia who seem to cuddle everything in sight. It’s no wonder that tourists flock to visit them, photograph them, and feed them the leaves of their all-time favourite food, eucalyptus. Apart from their tree-hugging habits and rigid diet though, how much do you actually know about them? The koala is part of the marsupial family, which is around 80 million years old.

Read More

Secret history: uncovering stories that never officially happened

Spy fiction has been a popular genre for over 100 years. Tales of Bond and Bourne continue to fascinate audiences worldwide. Sometimes, however, the realities of the shadowy world of espionage can be just as engrossing. There is just one problem: finding out what actually happened. This is especially the case when writing about deniable interference in the affairs of others: intelligence officers know it as “covert action.”

Read More

In the cattle world Part 2: Mostly bucks and bulls

The buck stops nowhere: it has conquered nearly all of Eurasia. The Modern English word refers to the stag. At one time, it was a synonym of he-goat, or Billy goat. But Old Engl. buc “stag” seems to have coexisted with bucca “Billy goat.” Perhaps later they merged. German Bock is a rather general designation of “male animal,” such as “ram” (or “wether”; wether is a nearly forgotten word, though still recognizable in bellwether), “stag,” and others; it is a common second element of compounds like Schafbock (Schaf “sheep”).

Read More