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Who cares for those who care?

By Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein
In 2009, Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, in Long Island Care at Home vs. Evelyn Coke upheld the administrative rule of the US Department of Labor that classified home health care workers as elder companions, excluding them from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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A flag of one’s own? Aimé Césaire between poetry and politics

Aimé Césaire (1913 – 2008) has left behind an extraordinary dual legacy as eminent poet and political leader. Several critics have claimed to observe a contradiction between the vehement anti-colonial stance expressed in his writings and his political practice. Criticism has focused on his support for the law of “departmentalization” (which incorporated the French Antilles, along with other overseas territories, as administrative “departments” within the French Republic) and his reluctance to lead his country to political independence.

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A love of superheroes

By Suzanne Walker
The night I saw The Avengers for the first time, I took the train back to my apartment and immediately dashed off the following email to a friend of mine: “The Avengers was amazing, I can’t even describe it. Feeling strangely fearless about life, and my head is filled with too many intellectual thoughts about superheroes.”

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Where no kiss has gone before

I grew up with Star Trek. When I was 10, I helped my mom put together an intricate scale model of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701, if you’re curious). I knew that LeVar Burton could tell me about a warp core before I knew that he would read me a children’s book, and I knew that Klingon was a learnable language long before I had ever heard of human languages like Tagalog or Swahili.

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Blaxploitation, from Shaft to Django

What do you get when you combine Hollywood, African American actors, gritty urban settings, sex, and a whole lot of action? Some would simply call it a recipe for box office success, but since the early 1970s, most people have known this filmmaking formula by the name “Blaxploitation.” Blaxploitation cinema occupies a fascinating place in the landscape of American pop culture.

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Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

15 April 2013 marked the fifth Jackie Robinson Day, commemorating the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, an event which broke baseball’s racial barrier. In each game that is now played on 15 April, all players wear Jackie Robinson’s iconic #42 (also the title of a new film on Robinson). Thirty years ago, historian and ardent baseball fan Jules Tygiel proposed the first scholarly study of integration in baseball, shepherded by esteemed Oxford editor, Sheldon Meyer: Baseball’s Great Experiment.

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Understanding the Muslim world

By Robert Repino
While interest in Islam has grown in recent years—both in the media and in educational institutions—there remains a persistent misunderstanding of the religion’s practices, beliefs, and adherents, who now number over one and half billion people. Addressing this problem is not simply an academic exercise, for the past decade especially has shown that our understanding of Islam can have enormous consequences on foreign and domestic policies, as well as on social relations.

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The historical arc of tuberculosis prevention

By Graham Mooney
In Tijuana, Mexico, 43-year-old tuberculosis patient Maria Melero takes her daily medicines at home while her health worker watches on Skype. Thirteen thousand kilometers away in New Delhi, India, Vishnu Maya visits a neighborhood health center to take her TB meds. A counselor uses a laptop to record Maya’s fingerprint electronically. An SMS is then sent to a centralized control center to confirm that Maya has received today’s dose.

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Why does “Ol’ Man River” still stop Show Boat?

By Todd Decker
Show Boat is back on the boards, visiting four major opera companies in a new production of yet another new version. Originally debuted on Broadway in 1927, apparently Show Boat will never stop being remade. The new production, directed by Francesca Zambello, had its premiere at the Chicago Lyric Opera a year ago, an appropriate starting place as much of the second act takes place in the Windy City.

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How to survive election season, oral history style

By Caitlin Tyler-Richards
Every presidential election, similar concerns arise: Don’t the campaign ads seem especially vicious? Has the media coverage always been this crazed? Will we ever actually get to vote? While I know many who become more motivated the more absurd the election season becomes, I tend to become disenchanted with the whole process, wondering how my one small vote could compete against the Koch Brothers or Morgan Freeman.

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Networked politics in 2008 and 2012

By Daniel Kreiss
A recent Pew study on the presidential candidates’ use of social media described Barack Obama as having a “substantial lead” over Mitt Romney. The metrics for the study were the amounts of content these candidates post, the number of platforms the campaigns are active on, and the differential responses of the public.

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Lady/Madonna: Profits and perils of the same song

We’ve all had the experience: you’re listening to the radio on your morning commute or walking through the mall one Saturday afternoon when a tune catches your ear. There’s something familiar about it, but upon further listening you know that it’s a new song. What about it sounds the same as the song already in your head?

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To sell a son… Uncle Tom’s Cabin

On 5 June 1851, the abolitionist journal National Era began running a serial by the wife of a professor at Bowdoin College. A deeply religious and well-educated white woman, Harriet Beecher Stowe was an ardent opponent of slavery. As she wrote to the journal editor, Gamaliel Bailey: “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.” The work, eventually titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Or Life Among the Lowly, became a national sensation.

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Eileen Watts Welch

Welch, Eileen Watts

(March 28, 1946–),
activist, educator, and business and administrative leader, was born Constance Eileen Watts in Durham, North Carolina, to Constance Merrick and Dr. Charles DeWitt Watts. Dr. Watts was North Carolina’s first black surgeon, and it was

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