Sam Haselby
Senior Editor, Aeon+Psyche

Sam is a historian of early America with a particular interest in religion and politics. He was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and has been a faculty member at the American University of Beirut, the American University in Cairo and at Columbia University in New York City. He helped to launch Al Jazeera America and is the author of The Origins of American Religious Nationalism (paperback, 2016). He can be found on Twitter @HaselbySam.

Written by Sam Haselby

Omar ibn Said c1850. Digitally colourised. Omar ibn Said’s autobiography is the only known extant autobiography of a slave written in Arabic in America. It was not edited by his owner, as those of other slaves written in English were, and is therefore surmised to be more authentic. It also attests to the high level of education that existed in Africa at the time and also reveals that many Africans who were brought to the United States as slaves were followers of Islam. Public domain via the Beinecke Library/Yale University

Essay/
History
Muslims of early America

Muslims came to America more than a century before Protestants, and in great numbers. How was their history forgotten?

Sam Haselby

USA. Watertown, South Dakota. February 2008. Photo by Alec Soth/Magnum

Essay/
History
American secular

The founding moment of the United States brought a society newly freed from religion. What went wrong?

Sam Haselby

Edited by Sam Haselby

Norman Douglas (right), lounging in Capri in 1949. Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
The case of Norman Douglas

He was a literary lion and an infamous pederast: what might we learn from his life about monstrosity and humanity?

Rachel Hope Cleves

Peanuts, bagged and ready for transport, are stacked in pyramids at Kano, Northern Region, Nigeria, 1955. Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Essay/
Global history
After slavery

Abolition in Africa brought longed-for freedoms, but also political turmoil, economic collapse and rising enslavement

Toby Green

Maxim and Ivy Litvinov in London in 1933. Photo by Hulton/Getty

Essay/
History
Madame comrade

How Ivy Litvinov, the English-born wife of a Soviet ambassador, seduced America with wit, tea and soft diplomacy

Brigid O’Keeffe

Photo by Frederic Courbet / Panos Pictures

Essay/
Anthropology
What pastoralists know

Pastoralists are experts in managing extreme variability. In a volatile world economy, bankers should learn how they do it

Ian Scoones

U Pyinyathee of the All Burma Monks Alliance, a group of exiled monks who fled the protests of the Saffron Revolution of 2007, outside the makeshift monastery he shares in Utica, upstate New York, 27 April 2010. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

Essay/
Demography and migration
Exiles on Main Street

To respect exiles as real and important political actors, we should get over casting them as saints, threats or victims

Ashwini Vasanthakumar

New Delhi, 6 June 1994. Photo by Sunil Malhotra/Reuters

Essay/
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

Vehicles on the Streets of Tokyo (1870) by Utagawa Yoshitori. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Essay/
Nations and empires
The myth of Westernisation

Americans liked to believe that Japan was Westernising through the 20th century but Japan was vigorously doing the opposite

Jon Davidann

Field workers harvest cantaloupes on the outskirts of Maricopa County near Aguila, Arizona, on 29 July 2020. Photo by Ed Kashi/Vii/Headpress

Essay/
Work
The tyranny of work

Jobs have become, for so many, a relentless, unsatisfying toil. Why then does the work ethic still hold so much sway?

Jamie McCallum

Migrant construction workers sleep on the floor in Dubai in 2012. Photo by Jonas Bendickson/Magnum

Essay/
Human rights and justice
Gulf slave society

The glittering city-states of the Persian Gulf fit the classicist Moses Finley’s criteria of genuine slave societies

Bernard Freamon

Ginseng root. Photo by Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty

Essay/
Illness and disease
Natural and unnatural

‘Natural’ remedies are metaphysically inconsistent and unscientific. Yet they offer something that modern medicine cannot

Alan Jay Levinovitz

A demonstrator uses a shield for protection against water cannons during an anti-government protest taking place outside the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 November 2020. Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Essay/
War and peace
Unrest in your backyard

Rich nations with strong governments can no longer assume that political violence is a problem for other, poorer countries

Mark Kukis

Mahatma Gandhi visits the Greenfield Mill at Darwen during his tour of the cotton areas of Lancashire, England, in 1931. Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Essay/
History
History from below

What shaped the thought of E P Thompson, the great historian of ordinary working people and champion of their significance?

Priya Satia

Detail of a miniature of Arthur slaying the Spanish giant on the island of Mont-Saint-Michel (1471-1483), by Jean de Wavrin. Royal 15 E IV f. 156. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Library

Essay/
Stories and literature
Empire of fantasy

By conquering young minds, the writing of J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis worked to recapture a world that was swiftly ebbing away

Maria Sachiko Cecire

Photo by Wang Zheng/Getty

Essay/
Space exploration
Do we send the goo?

The ability to stir new life into being, all across the Universe, compels us to ask why life matters in the first place

Betül Kaçar

Bhima fighting with Jayadratha in a page from the Mahabharata (c1615), Popular Mughal School, probably done at Bikaner, India. Photo by Getty

Essay/
Stories and literature
The living Mahabharata

Immorality, sexism, politics, war: the polychromatic Indian epic pulses with relevance to the present day

Audrey Truschke

Survival Piece I: Hog Pasture (1970-71) by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, for the exhibition ‘Earth, Air, Fire and Water’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison/The Harrison Studio

Essay/
Art
The art of survival

The Harrisons’ eco-art told stories about the apocalypse, pointing to a future where we’d all have to be survival artists

W Patrick McCray

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

Essay/
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

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

Essay/
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 Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

Essay/
Ethics
When to break a rule

A virtuous person respects the rules. So when should the same person make a judgment call and break or bend them instead?

Steven Nadler

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

Essay/
Global history
Vikings in America

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

Valerie Hansen

Photo by Corbis/Getty

Essay/
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

Essay/
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

Detail from a manuscript painting from a set of annals written in Nahuatl called the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca (1545-1565) from Mexico. Courtesy the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

Essay/
Global history
How Aztecs told history

For the warriors and wanderers who became the Aztec people, truth was not singular and history was braided from many voices

Camilla Townsend

US presidential advisor Ivanka Trump, managing director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde and German chancellor Angela Merkel share a laugh at the start of a panel discussion at the W20 summit in Berlin on 25 April 2017. Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Essay/
Knowledge
Confidence tricks

The ignorant pundit is absolutely certain; the true expert understands their own limits and how to ask the right questions

Andrew Little & Matthew Backus

An unknown male mummy found along with the mother and wife of Tutankhamun. Photo by Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic

Essay/
Archaeology
Mummies among us

Before death became a source of disgust and denial, Europeans cheerfully painted with – and ingested – human remains

Michael Press

Pakistani construction workers in the Business Bay area of Dubai, 2012. Photo by Jonas Bendiksen/Magnum

Essay/
Work
Universal unions

Being an employee is a threat to your liberty. But while firms exist, compulsory unions are a basic safeguard of freedom

Mark R Reiff

Guilin, China. 1979. Photo by Hiroji Kubota/Magnum

Essay/
Economic history
Counting China

By rejecting sampling in favour of exhaustive enumeration, communist China’s dream of total information became a nightmare

Arunabh Ghosh

Children playing in the remains of King Henry’s Sans-Souci Palace in Milot, Haiti, 8 September 2017. Photo by Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters

Essay/
Nations and empires
The king of Haiti’s dream

How a utopian vision of Black freedom and self-government was undone in a world still in thrall to slavery and racism

Marlene L Daut

An Indian worker shows a European man a sample of opium taken from one of the large clay pots in the foreground. Photo by Bourne and Shepherd/British Library

Essay/
Global history
From vice to crime

European empires were addicted to opium smoking. Then their own agents launched a moral crusade to prohibit it

Diana S Kim

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