Berfrois

Shimla-Wallahs

Shimla-Wallahs

The image of Shimla on film has evolved alongside film-making itself. The town’s journey across swatches of celluloid began as early as the first decade of the twentieth century, when films, chiefly propagandist in nature, began to be shot in India under the Raj.

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One Called Tiananmen

One Called Tiananmen

Factory workers in Shenzhen, China. Photograph by Douglas Johnson From New Left Review: Marx blamed California—the Gold Rush and its resultant monetary stimulus to world trade—for prematurely ending the revolutionary cycle of the 1840s. In the immediate aftermath of 2008, so-called brics became the new California. Airship Wall Street...

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Hilal Khashan on Syria

Hilal Khashan on Syria

Dictators, be they benevolent or malevolent, are incapable of compromise, and because of their constitutional makeup they see the world as black or white. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is not an exception to the rule. He is not receptive to engagement in serious political reforms to placate his country’s...

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Katrien Jacobs: Breast Lovers of China, Unite!

Katrien Jacobs: Breast Lovers of China, Unite!

Sora Aoi by Katrien Jacobs Since its establishment in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has upheld a nationwide ban on pornography, imposing harsh punishments on those caught purchasing, producing or distributing materials deemed a violation of public morality. Meanwhile, a well-developed yet illegal internet pornography industry, DIY pornography...

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Cuba’s agroecological achievements are remarkable, yet still they import food…

Cuba’s agroecological achievements are remarkable, yet still they import food…

A city farm in Cuba. Photograph by Tardigrade From Monthly Review: When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, parts, and petroleum. The situation was so bad...

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Junko Kitanaka: Depressed Nation

Junko Kitanaka: Depressed Nation

An advertisement for an all purpose pill called Wakyōgan sold in premodern Japan (Wakyōgan Hikifuda, Courtesy of Nichibunken) by Junko Kitanaka In Japan, in the 1980s, the term “kar­ôshi”, or “death from overwork”, was coined to describe cases where people have essentially worked themselves to death. In the late...

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John Beverley: Latin America’s Pink Tide

John Beverley: Latin America’s Pink Tide

    by John Beverley Let me begin by recalling a famous passage in his lectures on The Philosophy of History, where Hegel, writing in 1822, anticipates the future of the United States:   Had the forests of Germany still been in existence, the French Revolution would not have...

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Gib

‘Modern’ Tibet

‘Modern’ Tibet

The Qinghai-Tibet Highway From Guardian: For some years now, Tibet has been part of the world’s fastest-growing and globalising economy – indeed Tibet, helped by government investments and subsidies, has enjoyed higher GDP growth than all of China. There has been a general rise in living standards. Many Tibetan...

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‘Shiaphobia is nothing new for Saudi Arabia’

‘Shiaphobia is nothing new for Saudi Arabia’

In 2004, anticipating the victory of the Shiite parties in the Iraqi parliamentary elections, King Abdullah of Jordan warned of a “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon that would be dominated by Iran with its large majority of Shias and Shiite clerical leadership.

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Eugenia Herbert: India’s Colonial Gardens

Eugenia Herbert: India’s Colonial Gardens

Researching an earlier book on the culture of late colonialism in the Upper Zambezi Valley of what was then Northern Rhodesia, I read a great many colonial memoirs, letters and reports, and interviewed ex-colonial officials. There were two things that surprised me: one was the importance of Worcestorshire sauce,...

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How could the Kremlin have made such a mistake?

How could the Kremlin have made such a mistake?

Vladimir Putin believes he will be able to hold on to his power and avoid a repeat of Brezhnevite political and social stagnation. His critics are afraid that the future consequences of such a belief will be dramatic (photo: premier.gov.ru) by Daniil Kotsyubinsky The catcalls that greeted Vladimir Putin...

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Eli Evans: Rajoy’s Inheritance

Eli Evans: Rajoy’s Inheritance

by Eli S. Evans Mariano Rajoy’s date with the Spanish presidency has arrived some eight years late. In 2004, as the handpicked successor to José María Aznar, Rajoy’s electoral victory was all but guaranteed. The years of rapid growth over which Aznar had presided, as the ruling Partido Popular’s...

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Rebel Governance by Zachariah Cherian Mampilly

Rebel Governance by Zachariah Cherian Mampilly

German Stamp featuring Amilcar Cabral, January 1978 by Zachariah Cherian Mampilly During the liberation struggle against Portuguese colonialism in Guinea-Bissau, Amilcar Cabral and his PAIGC rebellion successfully convinced over sixty countries to recognize the nascent rebel government. Within the territory it successfully liberated from Portuguese control, the PAIGC built...

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‘What they fear most about China is the absence of a genuine autocrat’

‘What they fear most about China is the absence of a genuine autocrat’

From The Nation: Ever since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, forceful, unifying figures have dominated the political arena and the PLA. The first was Mao Zedong, who used his unparalleled charisma and political genius to pit rivals against one another, to create a cult of personality...

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Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

It all started with cellphones, a long time ago. No student, and few teachers, would make voice calls from class, but in the early...

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Remembrance of Translations Past

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

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Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting...

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Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Not that ‘the critic’ has ever been a greatly appreciated or understood figure. Some fat toad with a feather in his hat who thinks...

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Russell Bennetts
Street Fighter: Berfrois Interviews Tariq Ali

The extreme centre is a form of government that arose out of neoliberal economics and exists today in virtually the whole of Europe, North...

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John Crutchfield: Go West

Perhaps this is what finally draws me back to the Western. It is a fundamentally serious genre. It deals with serious questions, and it...

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Joel Gn on Henri Lefebvre

How may we speak of that which goes off the record in an age of digital colonisation?

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Volker M. Welter on Michael Graves

The designer Michael Graves, who passed away at the age of 80 on March 12th, was widely considered to be one of the founding...

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Sebastian Normandin on Steven Pinker

“The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists.” So begins Steven Pinker’s recent controversial essay on scientism and its...

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Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

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McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

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Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

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Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

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