Kalamazoo by  Josephine Livingstone

Every year, three thousand people gather in Kalamazoo for the sake of the years 400 to 1400 (approximately) of the Common Era. The International Congress on Medieval Studies, held annually at Western Michigan University, is the largest gathering of medievalists on earth. They come from all over the world to participate in panels like “Attack and Counterattack: The Embattled Frontiers of Medieval Iberia,” “Waste Studies: Excrement in the Middle Ages,” “Historical, Ethnical and Religious Roots of the Thraco-Geto-Dacians and Their Successors: Romanians and Vlaho-Romanians” and “J. K. Rowling’s Medievalism (I & II).” They are literary critics, historians, experts in numismatics and linguistic datasets, and nuns. There are over five hundred sessions: meetings and drinks parties and bookstalls; groups of monks dressed in black; bespectacled, serious, young men; elderly ladies in capped sleeves. Here is a ragtag bunch of human beings all on the same pilgrimage, playing a part in a story that they can’t read, because they’re in it.


Trump, Le Pen and the enduring appeal of nationalism by Mark Mazower

The flags are flying, the anthems ring out. We live in the time of the homeland, of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and the Freedom party’s presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, fresh from his resounding victory in the first round of the Austrian presidential poll. Trump has called on Americans to resist “the false song of globalism”. “In a huge number of European countries, patriotic movements are surging vigorously,” was how Le Pen greeted news of Hofer’s victory last weekend. Nationalism is back like it never went out of fashion and, with it, the head-scratching, the puzzlement. How to explain the irrational, the commentators ask. Doesn’t the Brexit camp realise leaving the European Union is a crazy idea? Don’t Trump’s millions understand that he is promising the impossible?

There is still no better place to look for an answer than in a little polemic written more than 30 years ago. Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983) remains a classic effort to explain nationalism’s durability and to come to terms with the passions it can unleash. Nationalism, Anderson argued, is not an ancient phenomenon, nor did it emerge in Europe as most commentators seemed to think. Quite distinct from the dynastic appeals of Shakespeare’s Henry V — it is easy to forget that the battle-cry “God for Harry, England and Saint George” is uttered in the play by the king himself — modern nationalism originated, in Anderson’s view, around the time of the American wars of independence. From the outset, he says, it has been more than just another political “ism”, as its deployment of sacral idioms, of the idea of sacrifice and duty, shows. In fact its emergence is best understood in relation to religion, whose compelling power to motivate and inspire it often shares.


A science without time by Gene Tracy

‘Out of fear of dying, the art of storytelling was born.’ Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009)

I have a memory, a vivid one, of watching my elderly grandfather wave goodbye to me from the steps of a hospital. This is almost certainly the memory of a dream. In my parent’s photo album of the time, we have snapshots of the extended family – aunts, uncles, and cousins who had all travelled to our upstate New York farm to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I am in some of the photos along with my brother, a pair of small faces mingled with smiling giants. I remember the excitement of the evening, being sent off to bed but then staying up late at the top of the stairs, listening to the pleasant babble of adult voices. I have no memory of what happened later, but it did not involve a timely visit to the hospital. My father told me many years afterward that my grandfather took ill that night and was rushed to the emergency room, where he died on the operating table.

Shakespeare 2

Shakespeare the Social Scientist By Tom Jacobs

Saturday marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, a milestone being marked around the world with readings, lectures and, of course, performances. Given Pacific Standard’s focus on the social sciences, we thought we’d commemorate the occasion by providing a few recent examples of how his researchers in a wide range of disciplines either claim him as one of their own, or cite his works as examples of timeless wisdom.

Diseară, de la 21.00, Radio România Actualități, la emisiunea Euroatlantica

Astăzi sunt invitat la Radio Actualități, în cadrul emisiunii Euroatlantica, de la ora 21.00. Împreună cu gazdele vom discuta despre agenda de securitate.
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