Politics and History

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o — the renowned Kenyan author — believes African writers should write in their native language, not the colonial language of English or French. He says the best way to decolonize the mind is to reclaim native languages.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left)

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by genealogy. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery.

Steve Paulson was surprised to discover that a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery. With the help of Erin Hoag of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, he searches for the grave of Eston Hemings Jefferson.More

Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work, and when it comes to better understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns over and over to criminologist Frank Zimring.More

Children in Addis Ababa.

Dagmawi Woubshet and Julie Mehretu were both born in Addis Ababa and then moved to America. They wonder what the city's explosive growth will mean for its unique character — one rooted in Ethiopia's history as the only African nation never colonized.More

basketball hoop

On Native American reservations, high school basketball is huge. They have developed a fast-paced style of play called “rez ball.” New York Times reporter Michael Powell spent a season covering the team from Chinle High School in the Navajo Nation.More

The 1968 Olympic games changed everything for John Carlos. He and fellow runner Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute on the podium in a moment that became known as the most defiant and controversial in Olympics history.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

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 french bulldog doing a snooze.

Philosopher Lars Svendson thinks we shouldn't be stressing about learning to bake sourdough or memorize TikTok dances in quarantine. He thinks we need to learn to be lazy again.More

Mondays, powered by coffee

Why does it seem like we always head into Monday feeling let down? Journalist Katrina Onstad explains how we ruined the weekend, and how to get it back.
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A woman behind screens

Anne Helen Petersen has been writing about burnout long before the pandemic. Now she says we’re really starting to run on empty.More

WORKER HARDER

In one recent study, 50 percent of people surveyed said they often or always feel exhausted from work. Emma Seppala says that it’s because collectively, we’re falling for outdated ideas about success.More

Picking up leaves on a leisurely hike.

Our lives have never been more optimized to save us time. But is it all time well spent? Maybe it’s time to embrace inefficiency, argues typewriter collector and philosopher Richard Polt.More

Ferris wheel

At one point there were more than 1,500 amusement parks across America. Historian Lauren Rabinovitz says they helped ease the country into a period of rapid technological change.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

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

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

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