Berfrois

Airline Travel and the African Diaspora

Airline Travel and the African Diaspora

In the prologue to Empire in the Air: Airline Travel and the African Diaspora, Chandra D. Bhimull begins with two narratives about death.

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Loneliness has a history…

Loneliness has a history…

‘God, but life is loneliness,’ declared the writer Sylvia Plath in her private journals. Despite all the grins and smiles we exchange, she says ...

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Set the World on Fire

Set the World on Fire

In 1937, the black nationalist activist Celia Jane Allen packed her bags and headed from Chicago to Mississippi. Working for the Peace Movement of Ethiopia (PME), she traveled against the tide of the Great Migration with the specific aim of promoting black emigration to West Africa...

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Eric D. Lehman: The Next Thirty Years War

Eric D. Lehman: The Next Thirty Years War

It is a time of great unrest in Europe. A large portion of the population is connected by a loose confederation, which threatens to fall apart at any moment. This unstable situation is made worse by false news flooding the continent...

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The story of the subway is the urtext of any book about New York…

The story of the subway is the urtext of any book about New York…

When the ground was first broken in 1900 to build a subway under the crowded streets of New York, some 25,000 of the city’s residents gathered to watch the ceremonies and cheer

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Dance ‘n’ Hop

Dance ‘n’ Hop

Also known as the “dancing plague”, it was the most fatal and best documented of the more than ten such contagions...

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Official anti-communism is a rhetorical tool for upholding the status quo…

Official anti-communism is a rhetorical tool for upholding the status quo…

Back in the fall of 2014, I visited the House of Terror museum in Budapest. On the way out, I flipped through the pages of the guest book, curious to read the reactions of other visitors after they had perused the exhibits.

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What made Diogenes Laertius so lucky?

What made Diogenes Laertius so lucky?

Poor Diogenes Laertius. He gets no respect. A “perfect ass”—“asinus germanus”—one nineteenth-century scholar called him. “Dim-witted,” said Nietzsche.

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Exquisite Rot

Exquisite Rot

There is a tale, perhaps apocryphal, in which Fra Damiano da Bergamo looks on as emperor Charles V — motto: Plus Ultra, “further beyond” — sands away at an area of intarsiated wood from a recently completed choir...

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Robert L. Tsai On Langston Hughes

Robert L. Tsai On Langston Hughes

Equality is a central concern of Hughes’s work, but in his hands, the concept possesses a desperate, embodied—and thoroughly pragmatic—quality to it. There are serious inequities facing black Americans, he reports...

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There’s no return from ’89…

There’s no return from ’89…

On 18th March 1921 the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Paris Commune was marked in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Newspapers were emblazoned with headlines decrying the brutal suppression of the heroic Communards...

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Cold War Hysteria in Mexico

Cold War Hysteria in Mexico

In Mariano Azuela’s bestselling novel about the Mexican Revolution, Los de Abajo (The Underdogs) (1915), the revolutionaries who set out to eradicate the corruption and decadence of the Porfirian government themselves...

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Father’s Furniture

Father’s Furniture

It was because my father’s health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer live alone that I came to possess his copy of Chinese Household Furniture, the Dover paperback edition with the pale yellow cover.

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The Necessity of Face Transplants by Andrea Zittlau

The Necessity of Face Transplants by Andrea Zittlau

Sharrona Pearl’s book Face/On looks at the cultural representations of face transplants. It is a fascinating account of media discourses particularly concerning the issue in the United States.

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HAGS SF

HAGS SF

Throughout most of the 1990s my evenings were split between working at a nonprofit call center where I bummed money off strangers for good causes, and getting drunk and dancing at any of San Francisco’s queer punk clubs.

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Judie Newman on Harriet Beecher Stowe

Judie Newman on Harriet Beecher Stowe

“So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Abraham Lincoln’s apocryphal greeting to Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862 has become known in literary history, after the colossal impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin...

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‘Beethoven’s music was more exciting when he was for Napoleon, rather than against him’

‘Beethoven’s music was more exciting when he was for Napoleon, rather than against him’

Beethoven was regarded as enough of a friend to the imperial family that, in 1808, Napoleon’s brother, Jerome Bonaparte, then king of Westphalia...

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Classified: Bears

Classified: Bears

As any good high school student should know, the beaks of Galápagos “finches” (in fact the islands’ mockingbirds) helped Darwin to develop his ideas about evolution.

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Sean Cashbaugh: Left Nostalgia

Sean Cashbaugh: Left Nostalgia

Marxists in the United States and Europe often claim it is easier for people to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

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Revolution, the Lightning

Revolution, the Lightning

It is often observed that the French Revolution was a revolution of scientists. Nourished by airy abstractions and heartfelt cries to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, its leaders sought a society grounded, not in God or tradition.

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