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Society

Essays and videos on social issues, history, political life and the future
An early morning view across an old bridge towards the spires of a historic medieval city partially obscured by fog
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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

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Politics and government

How it looked to Afghan women to see the Taliban return to power

33 minutes

An oversized yellow plastic revolver gun displayed outside a brightly painted shop. There are palm trees in the background
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History of technology

Why America fell for guns

The US today has extraordinary levels of gun ownership. But to see this as a venerable tradition is to misread history

Megan Kang

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Ethics

The scourge of lookism

It is time to take seriously the painful consequences of appearance discrimination in the workplace

Andrew Mason

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Biography and memoir

Passed over as the first Black astronaut, Ed Dwight carved out an impressive second act

13 minutes

A street intersection; a wall is painted with the word Soulsville in large letters with peeling paint
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Economic history

The southern gap

In the American South, an oligarchy of planters enriched itself through slavery. Pervasive underdevelopment is their legacy

Keri Leigh Merritt

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The ancient world

The six priestesses who kept the flame of ancient Rome alight at risk of death

5 minutes

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Thinkers and theories

Our tools shape our selves

For Bernard Stiegler, a visionary philosopher of our digital age, technics is the defining feature of human experience

Bryan Norton

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Engineering

A close-up look at electronic paper reveals its exquisite patterns – and limitations

9 minutes

Artwork depicting a family group composed of angular lines and triangles, some but not all coloured, on a paper background
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Family life

A patchwork family

After my marriage failed, I strove to create a new family – one made beautiful by the loving way it’s stitched together

Lily Dunn

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Architecture

West Africa was once an architectural laboratory. Is it time for a revival?

12 minutes

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Work

A Swedish expat in the Philippines wonders: what’s up with people sleeping at work?

14 minutes

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Bioethics

The dangers of AI farming

AI could lead to new ways for people to abuse animals for financial gain. That’s why we need strong ethical guidelines

Virginie Simoneau-Gilbert & Jonathan Birch

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War and peace

Legacy of the Scythians

How the ancient warrior people of the steppes have found themselves on the cultural frontlines of Russia’s war against Ukraine

Peter Mumford

A weary looking medical staff member in scrubs and face mask sits at a desk in a hospital room surrounded by medical paraphernalia
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Public health

It’s dirty work

In caring for and bearing with human suffering, hospital staff perform extreme emotional labour. Is there a better way?

Susanna Crossman

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Art

‘If you’re creative, why can’t you create a solution?’ One artist’s imaginative activism

17 minutes

A doorway within a metallic-like surface surrounded by hazard tape leads to a low-lit tunnel
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The future

Prehistory in the atomic age

To understand the terrifying futures unleashed by nuclear weapons, we urgently need to return to the deep past

Maria Stavrinaki

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The ancient world

An ancient Roman’s hilarious (and perhaps relatable) response to a social snub

2 minutes

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Economics

Who bears the risk?

Under the guise of empowerment and freedom, politicians and business are offloading lifethreatening risk to individuals

Suzanne Schneider

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Political philosophy

The battles over beginnings

Niccolò Machiavelli’s profound insights about the violent origins of political societies help us understand the world today

David Polansky