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Society

Essays and videos on social issues, history, political life and the future
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Mental health

The last great stigma

Workers with mental illness experience discrimination that would be unthinkable for other health issues. Can this change?

Pernille Yilmam

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Biology

How the world’s richest reds are derived from an innocuous Mexican insect

5 minutes

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Cities

A lush, whirlwind tribute to the diversity of life in a northern English county

3 minutes

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Music

Folk music was never green

Don’t be swayed by the sound of environmental protest: these songs were first sung in the voice of the cutter, not the tree

Richard Smyth

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Nations and empires

A United States of Europe

A free and unified Europe was first imagined by Italian radicals in the 19th century. Could we yet see their dream made real?

Fernanda Gallo

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Stories and literature

On Jewish revenge

What might a people, subjected to unspeakable historical suffering, think about the ethics of vengeance once in power?

Shachar Pinsker

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Film and visual culture

‘Bags here are rarely innocent’ – how filmmakers work around censorship in Iran

8 minutes

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Consciousness and altered states

Acid media

How perforated squares of trippy blotter paper allowed outlaw chemists and wizard-alchemists to dose the world with LSD

Erik Davis

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Language and linguistics

Closed captions suck. Here’s one artist’s inventive project to make them better

8 minutes

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Thinkers and theories

A rare female scholar of the Roman Empire, Hypatia lived and died as a secular voice

5 minutes

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The environment

Decoupling

We need to find a way for human societies to prosper while the planet heals. So far we can’t even think clearly about it

Ville Lähde

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Archaeology

Why make art in the dark?

New research transports us back to the shadowy firelight of ancient caves, imagining the minds and feelings of the artists

Izzy Wisher

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Stories and literature

Do liberal arts liberate?

In Jack London’s novel, Martin Eden personifies debates still raging over the role and purpose of education in American life

Nick Romeo

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Anthropology

Why are witchcraft accusations so common across human societies?

4 minutes

a crowd of women dressed in black  face the camera
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Politics and government

India and indigeneity

In a country of such extraordinary diversity, the UN definition of ‘indigenous’ does little more than fuel ethnic violence

Dikshit Sarma Bhagabati

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History of ideas

Reimagining balance

In the Middle Ages, a new sense of balance fundamentally altered our understanding of nature and society

Joel Kaye

A marble bust of Thucydides is shown on a page from an old book. The opposite page is blank.
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History

What would Thucydides say?

In constantly reaching for past parallels to explain our peculiar times we miss the real lessons of the master historian

Mark Fisher

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Wellbeing

Born in China, Zee seeks a gender-affirming life in the American Midwest

11 minutes

A man and a woman in formal evening dress but with giant fish heads covering their faces are pictured beneath a bridge on the foreshore of a river
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The environment

Emergency action

Could civil disobedience be morally obligatory in a society on a collision course with climate catastrophe?

Rupert Read

An early morning view across an old bridge towards the spires of a historic medieval city partially obscured by fog
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Home

Return of the descendants

I migrated to my ancestral homeland in a search for identity. It proved to be a humbling experience in (un)belonging

Jessica Buchleitner

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Rituals and celebrations

A whale hunt is an act of prayer for an Inuit community north of the Arctic Circle

8 minutes

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Economic history

Credit card nation

Americans have always borrowed, but how exactly did their lives become so entangled with the power of plastic cards?

Sean H Vanatta

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Human rights and justice

My elusive pain

The lives of North Africans in France are shaped by a harrowing struggle to belong, marked by postcolonial trauma

Farah Abdessamad

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Religion

Conscientious unbelievers

How, a century ago, radical freethinkers quietly and persistently subverted Scotland’s Christian establishment

Felicity Loughlin