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Society

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

Conscientious unbelievers

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

Felicity Loughlin

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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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Technology and the self

An artist swaps her head with everyday objects in a musing on consumerism

4 minutes

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Language and linguistics

Messages born of melody – hear the whistled language of the Hmong people

18 minutes

A woman in a pink coat and carrying a pink umbrella walks past a protestor carrying a yellow placard appealing to people to use cash
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Economics

Going cashless

It’s not in the interests of the ordinary person but it’s not a conspiracy either. A cashless society is a system run amok

Brett Scott

A figure is silhouetted in an older style apartment block window at night. In the distance are taller modern tower block apartments
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Cities

The haunting of modern China

In Nanjing, Hong Kong and other Chinese cities, rapid urbanisation is multiplying a fear of death and belief in ghosts

Andrew Kipnis

A woman and two children dressed in traditional First Nations clothing stand in front of a teepee structure
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Language and linguistics

Language is medicine

For First Nations people, health is not a matter of mechanical fitness of the body, but of language, identity and belonging

Erica X Eisen

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Cities

Sick city

My dad grew up in Robert Moses’s New York City. His story is a testament to how urban planning shapes countless lives

Katie Mulkowsky

A woman helps another woman to her feet in a clearing among flowers.
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Mental health

People not professionals

Training individuals to support one another through difficult times is a profound step forward in our mental health crisis

Arjun Kapoor & Jasmine Kalha

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Knowledge

The ends of knowledge

Academics need to think harder about the purpose of their disciplines and whether some of those should come to an end

Rachael Scarborough King & Seth Rudy

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Technology and the self

Greetings from Green Bank – the small town where modern technology is banned

10 minutes

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History of technology

Care from afar

For over a century telemedicine has promised healthcare for all. But will it ever replace seeing a human being in person?

Jeremy A Greene

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History of ideas

Sleepwalk to the gift shop

Romanticism once radically challenged conventional pieties. Now it’s little more than marketable schlock. What happened?

Fiona Sampson

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Cities

The haunted city

The city, for all its mechanical speed, artificial light and industrialisation, is the most uncanny of human habitats

Azania Imtiaz Khatri-Patel

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Thinkers and theories

Philosopher of the apocalypse

From the ashes of the Second World War, Günther Anders forecast a new catastrophe: technology would overwhelm its creators

Audrey Borowski

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Childhood and adolescence

When Paradise, California burned, its teens became instant climate refugees

23 minutes

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Demography and migration

In 1980, two feuding professors bet on the fate of humanity. Who won?

5 minutes

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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

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Nations and empires

East of Zionism

In 1900 my grandfather’s generation imagined a modernising Arab world, multireligious and progressive. What happened?

Ussama Makdisi

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Beauty and aesthetics

Can culture degenerate?

Tempting it might be, but the idea that culture has become vacuous and banal comes with unsavoury implications

Christy Wampole

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Neurodiversity

After neurodiversity

We live in a world that must move beyond identity politics and embrace new models of the mind. Enter psydiversity

Bonnie Evans

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Nations and empires

The road from Rome

The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a lucky break for humanity as a whole

Walter Scheidel

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Nations and empires

Brand India

How a country used myth and mystique to tempt global investors – and seeded a toxic Hindu nationalism in the process

Ravinder Kaur