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Saint John the Evangelist Causes a Pagan Temple to Collapse (c1370) by Francescuccio Ghissi. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Essay/
The ancient world
Fiddling while Rome converts

A generation of pagan bureaucrats amassed wealth and status while Roman emperors Christianised the world around them

Edward Watts

Mousehold Heath (1810) by John Sell Cotman. Drawing on paper. According to the UK Government, between 1604 and 1914 enclosure Bills enacted by Parliament restricted access to formerly open communal land comprising just over a fifth of the total area of England. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum

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Economic history
Economics for the people

Against the capitalist creeds of scarcity and self-interest, a plan for humanity’s shared flourishing is finally coming into view

Dirk Philipsen

Self-Portrait in the Camp (1940), by Felix Nussbaum. Nussbaum was a prominent and admired artist prior to the Nazis seizing power in 1933. He subsequently worked in exile and hiding before being murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Neue Galerie New York/Getty Images

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Thinkers and theories
Where loneliness can lead

Hannah Arendt enjoyed her solitude, but she believed that loneliness could make people susceptible to totalitarianism

Samantha Rose Hill

A view of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York showing the Golden Rondelle Theater (upper left), Tower of Light (upper centre) and General Electric’s Pavilion featuring Walt Disney’s Progressland (upper right, blue and yellow lit dome). Photo by George Silk/LIFE/Getty

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History of ideas
The rise and rise of creativity

Once seen as the work of genius, how did creativity become an engine of economic growth and a corporate imperative?

Steven Shapin

From The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945) by Tove Jansson. ©Moomin Characters™

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Stories and literature
Pippi and the Moomins

The antics in postwar Nordic children’s books left propaganda and prudery behind. We need this madcap spirit more than ever

Richard W Orange

Members of the Ik (Uganda) mime a ritual raid-and-escape dance, an element of which is to teach the importance of tending to the injured and vulnerable. All photos courtesy the author

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Anthropology
Neither nasty nor brutish

The Ik – among the poorest people on Earth – have been cast as exemplars of human selfishness. The truth is much more startling

Cathryn Townsend

Something for everyone. Workers at a Daimler-Benz car plant listen to a speech by a visiting dignitary in West Germany circa 1972. Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty

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Economic history
Thirty glorious years

Postwar prosperity depended on a truce between capitalist growth and democratic fairness. Is it possible to get it back?

Jonathan Hopkin

Photo by Catalina Martin-Chico/Panos Pictures

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Archaeology
The deep Anthropocene

A revolution in archaeology has exposed the extraordinary extent of human influence over our planet’s past and its future

Lucas Stephens, Erle Ellis & Dorian Fuller

Study For Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences, or The Genius of America Encouraging the Emancipation of the Blacks (1791-92) by Samuel Jennings. Courtesy the Met Museum/New York

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History of ideas
Philosophy’s systemic racism

It’s not just that Hegel and Rousseau were racists. Racism was baked into the very structure of their dialectical philosophy

Avram Alpert

Detail of ‘Siege of the City’ by Jean Charlot, watercolour of a fresco at Chichén Itzá. The Maya mural from the Las Monjas building clearly shows a ship with the distinct wooden planks of a Viking boat © Jean Charlot/Artists Rights Society [ARS]; Copyright Agency, 2020

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Global history
Vikings in America

Centuries before Columbus, Vikings came to the Western hemisphere. How far into the Americas did they travel?

Valerie Hansen

An American advertisement for Royal Crown Cola from 1955. Photo by Alamy

Essay/
Gender
Angels in the market

The heart-tug tactics of 1950s ads steered white American women away from activism into domesticity. They’re still there

Ellen Wayland-Smith

A polio patient receives treatment via an ‘iron lung’, the nurse adjusting the flow of air pressure. United States c1955. Photo by Three Lions Inc/Getty

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Medicine
Life and breath

There’s a strange, and deeply human, story behind how we taught machines to breathe for critically ill patients

Sarah Ruth Bates

Illegal gold miners working in a pit in Manicaland, Zimbabwe. Photo by Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures

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Human rights and justice
Weak links

The idea of the ‘supply chain’ shackles how we think about economic justice. What forces could new metaphors unleash?

Michael Gibb

On the runway in 1962. Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty

Essay/
Travel
Fly with me

Jet-age glamour was more than just aesthetic: its promise of motionless movement reshaped perception of time and space

Vanessa R Schwartz

Photo by Corbis/Getty

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Language and linguistics
A history of punctuation

How we came to represent (through inky marks) the vagaries of the mind, inflections of the voice, and intensity of feeling

Florence Hazrat

Cologne Cathedral stands out from the rubble of a city destroyed during the Second World War. Photographed from a US spotter plane in September 1945. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

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History
Repetition and rupture

Reinhart Koselleck, the last great theorist of history, sought in the apparent chaos of events a science of experience

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann

The view towards Milano Centrale station down via Vittor Pisani during lockdown, 29 March 2020. Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket/Getty

Essay/
Engineering
Uncertain times

The pandemic is an unprecedented opportunity – seeing human society as a complex system opens a better future for us all

Jessica Flack & Melanie Mitchell

The cellar of the Codorníu winery Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Catalonia. Photo by Richard Kalvar/Magnum

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Archaeology
Accumulation and its discontents

Whether collecting, storing or hoarding, we’ve always had our issues with stuff – not least deciding what’s worth having

Astrid Van Oyen