Politics and History

the rollercoaster of democracy

Historian Jeremi Suri places our present moment into a larger context — and uses the ups and downs of history to theorize what might lie ahead of us.More

Vote mural

Constitutional scholar and law professor Kim Wehle says democracy itself is on the ballot this year. What can you do about it? Vote.More

A village in

Kenyan literary scholar James Ogude believes "ubuntu" — a concept in which your sense of self is shaped by your relationships with other people — serves as a counterweight to the rampant individualism that’s so pervasive in contemporary cities.More

A building at the Zoma Museum

In Addis Ababa, curator Meskerem Assegued and artist Elias Sime have created Zoma Museum as a visionary model of an urban future, using ancient Ethiopian building techniques. They say modern development can be much more than concrete high-rises.More

Lending a helping hand.

Historian Emily Calacci says the massive migration into African cities isn't following the Western model of urban development. Instead of an infrastructure of roads, railways and electric grids, many African cities rely on "people as infrastructure."More

A moment on the street in Addis Ababa.

Ghanaian post-colonial theorist Ato Quayson thinks a lot about globalization, diaspora and transnationalism. Because he’s a literary scholar, he decided to "read" a single street — Oxford Street in Accra — as a study of contemporary urban Africa.More

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton wrote more than a million words on alchemy over his lifetime, conducting decades of alchemical experiments. But he did it all in secret. Why? The question fascinates historian Bill Newman.More

crystal meth

When anthropologist Jason Pine traveled to rural Missouri, he wound up spending a lot of time observing underground meth labs. And he came to a startling conclusion: that the meth cooks of the Ozarks are today’s alchemists.More

Haleema reporting in Pakistan

You could say that the work of nation-building is never really done. Haleema Shah has been thinking about that after a recent trip to a country close to her heart — Pakistan.More

tea set

Journalist Adam Minter wrote a whole book about what happens to our things when we don’t want them anymore. It’s called “Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale” Angelo asked him: why don’t we think more about the things we donate?More

The Museum of Everyday Life is in Clare Dolan’s barn.

"Museum of Everyday Life" founder and curator Clare Dolan calls it "an ongoing, revolutionary experiment" — a celebration of "the mysterious delight embedded in the banal but beloved objects we touch everyday.More

whale at House on the Rock

When Angelo visited the House on the Rock for the firs time, at first he saw a testament to one man's obsession and demented imagination. But then he started to think — does he have his own bizarre collection of stuff in his home?More

disposable razor

Half the reason we buy so much new stuff is that our old stuff keeps breaking. Author Giles Slade says there's a reason for that — planned obsolescence.More

washing machine in a house.

In her new book, author Eula Biss reckons with a new phase in her life, moving from an apartment in Chicago to the first house her family owns. While that dream is about as American as the proverbial apple pie, Biss ruminates on the reality that it’s an impossible dream for many people.More

shadow arm

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? Steve Paulson does. And maybe you do too. How can something so simple be so hard — for so many people?More

man walking to work

The anthropologist David Graeber says “BS jobs” are an epidemic. Especially in that circle of hell known as middle management.More

dollar bill

"Before there was money, there was debt" says David Graeber in his book “Debt: The First 5,000 Years."More

clock

In interviewing hundreds of women, writer and journalist Ada Calhoun learned something startling: that her insomnia, which felt so personal and private, might actually be generational and gendered.More

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