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Society

Essays and videos on social issues, history, political life and the future
It never existed | Aeon
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Global history

It never existed

The idea of a ‘precolonial’ Africa is theoretically vacuous, racist and plain wrong about the continent’s actual history

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

The golden fuel | Aeon
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Economic history

The golden fuel

Asia’s rise to economic power and food security has been powered not by rice but by American maize, the ultimate flex-crop

Peter A Coclanis

Geopolitics is for losers | Aeon
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Global history

Geopolitics is for losers

The concept of geopolitics comes from German and Russian attempts to explain defeat and reverse loss of influence

Harold James

The Rosetta Stone and what it actually says | Aeon
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The ancient world

What did the Rosetta Stone’s inscription actually communicate?

17 minutes

Medieval but not Christian | Aeon
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Comparative philosophy

Medieval but not Christian

It’s shocking that histories of medieval philosophy celebrate only Christian thinkers, ignoring Islamic and Jewish thought

Yitzhak Y Melamed

Five years after the war | Aeon
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Gender and identity

Timothée built his identity around his absent father. What happens when they meet?

17 minutes

Ever more land and labour | Aeon
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Global history

Ever more land and labour

Centuries of capitalism saw the global countryside ruthlessly converted into cheap commodities. But at what cost?

Sven Beckert & Ulbe Bosma

The Calvinist conquest | Aeon
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Religion

The Calvinist conquest

In the 17th century, Dutch proselytisers set out for Asia, Africa and the Americas. The legacy of their travels endures

Charles H Parker

Black King of Songs | Aeon
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Global history

Black King of Songs

His communism brought the great American singer Paul Robeson trouble in the US, but helped make him a hero in China

Gao Yunxiang

A brief guide to Egyptian Surrealism | Aeon
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Art

‘Long Live Degenerate Art’ – how a Surrealist group in Cairo defied repression in 1938

4 minutes

Origin of the world map | Aeon
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History of technology

Master cartography and mythical creatures – the world according to the Catalan Atlas

8 minutes

Golden jubilee | Aeon
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Human rights and justice

Portugal stole Goa’s lands and narratives. Can they ever truly be returned?

19 minutes

With respect and friendship | Aeon
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Global history

With respect and friendship

For a century before the rise of European empires, Britons and North Africans lived together in amicable peace

Nat Cutter

Beyond Eurocentrism | Aeon
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Economics

Beyond Eurocentrism

If you really want decolonisation, go beyond cultural criticism to the deep structural insights of economist Samir Amin

Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven

Views from everywhere | Aeon
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History of ideas

Views from everywhere

Academic philosophy can indeed make sense of our interdependent world. But only if it transforms by becoming truly diverse

Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach & Leah Kalmanson

The power of water | Aeon
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Global history

The power of water

Far more potent than oil or gold, water is a stream of geopolitical force that runs deep, feeding crops and building nations

Giulio Boccaletti

The chocolate route | Aeon
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Food and drink

The chocolate route

The humble cocoa bean’s journey from its Amerindian origins to worldwide dominance is a lesson in the power of trade

Irene Fattacciu

How disruptions happen | Aeon
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History

How disruptions happen

Major disruptions in world history follow a clear pattern. What can upheavals of the past tell us about our own future?

David Potter

What Big History misses | Aeon
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Global history

What Big History misses

Sweeping the human story into a cosmic tale is a thrill but we should be wary about what is overlooked in the grandeur

Ian Hesketh

Songs of conquest | Aeon
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Music

Songs of conquest

From Tallis’s choral beauty to the unnerving bells of Mexico City, early modern power created a whole new world of sound

Thomas Irvine & Christopher J Smith

Caribbean honeymoon No 1 | Aeon
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Travel

‘My people!’ A Trinidadian’s love letter to his island, just before its 1962 independence

17 minutes

When Vikings lived in North America | Aeon
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Archaeology

A Viking axe struck a Newfoundland tree in the year 1021. Here’s how scientists proved it

7 minutes

Being Persian | Aeon
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Nations and empires

Being Persian

To be Persian before nationalism was to belong to a generous, plural identity woven through language, kin and manners

Mana Kia

A fourth globalisation | Aeon
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Economic history

A fourth globalisation

A new form of trade is reshaping our world, and it’s driven by the movement of bits and bytes, not goods, around the globe

Marc Levinson