EssaysMedia/Publics

The Politics of Disinviting

On education and engagement with ideas

The tactic of disinviting controversial speakers has become increasingly common across college campuses. Consider, for example, what happened to the Iranian-born human rights activist Maryam Namazie (a prominent anti-racist activist and a central committee member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran), who was …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Benjamin in Jerusalem

The Middle East as crisis and critique

This month, two conferences and one exhibition dedicated to Walter Benjamin’s legacy are descending on Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. Because of an unhealthy mix of political considerations, security measures, and academic snobbery, I will partake in none of them, despite my deep roots in this troubled land and my recent book on Benjamin. …

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EssaysMedia/Publics

The Nude in the Library

A tale of two anachronisms

October 2015 was a big month for obsolescence. First we heard reports that the OCLC’s classic library card catalog was finally being retired. Then we heard news that Playboy magazine had decided to no longer feature fully nude models between its pages. As someone who grew up taking for granted the existence of both …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Will There be Real Change in Argentina?

On the Macri election

Argentina has a new president, but the same traditional presidentialist system remains. After more than a decade of the Kirchners in power (2003-2015), the new president Mauricio Macri was elected because he convinced Argentine voters that he was the candidate of “change.” …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Specter of Fear

Europe after the Paris attacks

A specter is haunting Europe after the Paris attacks of Friday, the 13th of November. We feel this specter of fear as we hypnotically click onto news sites for updates, analysis and pictures of the latest terror attacks. There is an awful sense that we have been here before — the patterns are all too familiar. The declaration by President …

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Arts & DesignEssaysMedia/PublicsPsyche

Technology and the Spaces Between Us

Humanity and the digital world

I remember that afternoon distinctly. It was an overcast spring afternoon and the light was soft and cast beautiful shadows. I was sitting having a cup of qehvah on a side street of Main Market, Lahore, the only woman in a street filled with men. Most of them didn’t know how to look at me, or how to read me. Either they would smirk …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

Moral Sentiment and Moral Judgment after the Paris Attacks

On the problem of selective solidarity

Ever since the dust began to clear after what President Hollande rightfully called “the horror” of Friday night, my media consumption — yes, especially my Facebook feed (constantly refreshed with reflections from Public Seminar) …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Let’s Change the Future

On reclaiming our humanity in times of fear

I have a strange feeling, like I’ve been here before.

Everything looks familiar. The highly coordinated Islamist attack on a “Western” nation; the bloodthirsty demand for revenge; the calls to war abroad and the suspension of liberties at home; the simplification of the world into …

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EssaysImaginal PoliticsPower and CrisisTheory & Practice

For the Last Time: “The West”

Revisiting the myth of the clash of civilizations

As information about the attacks in Paris, which left at least 128 people dead, gradually unfolds, I feel overwhelmed and disturbed. I am overwhelmed by the quantity of affective response to which I add my own grief, but I am also deeply disturbed by the way in which this affective reaction is channeled …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Tragedy of the 2015 Turkish Elections

Examining the AKP victory

The November 2015 election brought a landslide victory to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), increasing its vote almost nine points in 5 months. This surprising comeback would be hard to explain in an ordinary situation where such drastic shifts in voting in a short time period would not be expected. However, it …

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