Berfrois

Nadav Samin on New York and Saudi Arabia

Nadav Samin on New York and Saudi Arabia

I wrote a book, Of Sand or Soil, on genealogy and social contestation in modern Saudi Arabia. It rests on two apparent falsehoods, both of which concern that “least sexy” discipline, philology.

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Musings on the Mediterranean “Monsters”

Musings on the Mediterranean “Monsters”

Persepolis, Briton Rivière by Gregory Jusdanis Many travelers still seek solitude among the tourists, the luxury to communicate personally with the ruins. They long to leave their minds on idle, while they enter the vista before them, undisturbed by the other souls striving for the same illusion. I often...

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Ring Road

Ring Road

Lahore ring road. Photograph from Google Earth. by Manan Ahmed You can’t see through cement – and neither can I. When I look at Lahore and the ways in which cement has cordoned off sight-lines, I see a city full of people blind-folded. The gated communities were the first...

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CUC $10 Minimum

CUC $10 Minimum

From The Walrus: At the end of the meal, I’d given the waiter CUC $80 and received CUC $10 in change, and as I stood there with the ten-peso note in my hand Antonio grabbed and pocketed it. I shot him a confused look, and he responded with a half shrug...

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The Congo wars might well have been avoided…

The Congo wars might well have been avoided…

All over east-central Africa, for several centuries, there has been tension between two ways of life that have also been two human silhouettes: the tall, graceful cattle-people and the shorter, sturdier agriculturalists. They have different names in different places, but in Rwanda and Burundi they are the Tutsi and...

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Ireland and the Falklands War

Ireland and the Falklands War

The aftermath of Operation Condor. Washington, September 21, 1976 From Dublin Review of Books: The morning of September 21st, 1976 was unusually dull. Rain had been forecast. I was in my office on the second floor of the Irish embassy, occasionally looking out on the tranquillity of Sheridan Circle...

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John Gaffney on Nicolas Sarkozy

John Gaffney on Nicolas Sarkozy

It is the received view – a view that took root that fateful evening at Fouquet’s restaurant, the evening of his victory over his Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, in May 2007 – that Nicolas Sarkozy as President between 2007 and 2012 betrayed de Gaulle’s République de grandeur, replacing it...

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Most, except the Greek nationalists, are perfectly happy blaming the Greeks…

Most, except the Greek nationalists, are perfectly happy blaming the Greeks…

So why are we in Europe going down the path of a deeply self-deceptive and hypocritical race to the bottom, where trans-European solidarity is a non-starter, since it can only be a barrier to a European political elite now intent on pursuing the next phase of our liberalization by...

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‘Frustration among Saudis has deep roots’

‘Frustration among Saudis has deep roots’

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia From Boston Review: About two weeks after the failed mass protests, Chas Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, gave a lecture at the Asia Business Forum in Riyadh. He unequivocally asserted that there is no great power other than the United States capable...

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Effective Bureaucratic Order

Effective Bureaucratic Order

Vladimir Putin’s one great achievement is the restoration of bureaucratic order after its near destruction by Gorbachev and privatisation by Yeltsin. Yet the end game is fast approaching, and the longer Putin clings on, the more likely he will be instead remembered for letting greedy friends and bureaucrats run...

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London is the city and the city and the city and the city…

London is the city and the city and the city and the city…

Eric Rimmington by Laurie Penny In some ways it was the first place I ever knew. Seventeen, sick and living in a box-room belonging to an octogenarian friend of the family, every day once I was just about well enough not to have to sleep in hospital overnight I...

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Andrea Teti: Egypt One Year On

Andrea Teti: Egypt One Year On

One year after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, it is difficult to conclude that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military junta which took over from the former President, are anything but the hard core of Mubarak’s regime, fighting for its own survival.

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France as Tourist Brothel

France as Tourist Brothel

Bercy Village, Paris, described by locals as “faux French village in the heart of Paris.”  by James Warner A prophet-provacateur faithful to French traditions of lucidity, sensuality, and alienation, Houellebecq believes we are all doomed. The Map and the Territory continues his great project of exposing the limits of individualism....

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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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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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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: LGBT Struggles in Albania

This morning I woke up to a rather surprising headline: "first gay marriage in Tirana." The article referred to the marriage ceremony recently held...

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Feroz Rather in Srinagar

Though the war was still going on, it was not a terribly sad time in my life; at least, I had the consolation of...

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Foucault’s Politics of Truth by Stuart Elden

The key figures are Cardinal Richelieu and Chancellor Séguier, and Foucault thinks it is important that he can discern the “first great deployment of...

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Menachem Feuer on Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham

Elle called Silverman’s image of her wearing a shirt with several naked Lena Dunhams a “beautiful tribute.” Dunham, the article tells us, “seemed to...

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Mediamacro are very good at pretending…

A few weeks ago I was having dinner with David Cameron. Well, almost - we were at the same restaurant but on tables at...

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Tammy Ho Lai-Ming: One Little Room

A room with graffitied walls. Inside this room the dogs bark. A room cluttered with porcelain figurines. A room decorated with binary numbers.

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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David Beer
David Beer: Make Happy, Happy, Happy

As I read through William Davies’ engaging new book, I can’t help but wonder what Mad Men’s Don Draper would have made of John...

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Russell Bennetts: Coffee for 8 More

I might be the last person you should ask about St. Paul coffee in general. On an ordinary day I make do with drip...

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Emeline Edgewood
In X the Promise

X seems to want to be both the equivalent of The Giant and of Laura Palmer’s mother in Twin Peaks.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Municipal

Although there are also some independent candidates who may take a few votes here and there, the general opinion of the Tirana public and...

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En Liang Khong: Full Bloom

The cross-dressing Qiu Jin was emblematic of a revolutionary feminist current at the end of the Qing era, writing urgently on women’s emancipation: “While...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Very Much Like a Whale by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

They had obviously taken the pictures of the whale, and the group of people carrying it, out of curiosity. But still the images failed...

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