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Goths traversant une rivière, Évariste-Vital Luminais (1822-1896). Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Goths came en masse and unopposed as immigrants to Rome
When discussing the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe, we often ignore one thing: most of them are neither Syrians nor refugees. The majority are Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, or even Bangladeshis. They live crummy lives but are in no immediate danger, their motive being simply the prospect of a better life in the West.... Read More
Male figurine, pottery, c. 7,000–5,000 years ago, Greece, Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
This is one of several findings with a common theme: the farther back in time we go, the less familiar people look. And we don't have to go very far. This fact came up in a column I wrote about the Americas. If we turn back the clock, Amerindians look more and more European, yet... Read More
Egyptian painting of a Libyan, a Kushi, a Syrian, and an Egyptian.  In the Middle East, the Egyptians were seen as the Dark Other. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Mention the term ‘skin color’ and people usually think of race or ethnicity. Yet this way of thinking became dominant only when Europeans began moving out and colonizing the rest of the world, beginning in the 16th century. Previously, physical features were less useful as ethnic markers. We knew about and quarrelled with those groups... Read More
Un homme et une femme, 1891, Stephan Sinding (1846-1922). Almost as fun as sex.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
All humans love to kiss, so kissing must go back to early hominids and even chimps and bonobos. This is how ethologists and evolutionary psychologists think when they write about the subject. Just one thing. Even in historic times not all humans loved to kiss. Far from arising millions of years in the past, kissing... Read More
Bronze vessel in the form of a snail shell, 9th century, Igbo-Ukwu. The Igbo developed metallurgy much earlier than the rest of West Africa. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
There has been much talk here about Chanda Chisala's article "The IQ gap is no longer a black and white issue." Much of the article focuses on the Igbo (known also as Ibo), a people who live in the Niger Delta and "are well known to be high academic achievers within Nigeria." In the United... Read More
Memorial service for Walter Rathenau (Wikicommons - German Federal Archives). His assassination introduced a new word into French and, shortly after, into English. Credit Wikimedia Commons
A reader has written me about my last post: The best authority on this subject is probably Pierre-André Taguieff, who seems to have read everything about racism, racialism, or colorism. He fo
Rally in Sydney.  Antiracists see themselves as open-minded individuals at war with hardline ideologues.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The interwar years gave antiracism a new lease on life, thus reversing a long decline that had begun in the late 19th century. This reversal was driven largely by two events: the acrimonious debate over U.S. immigration in the mid-1920s and Hitler's rise to power in the early 1930s. Many people, especially academics, were convinced... Read More
As a professor at Columbia, Franz Boas encountered the elite liberal culture of the American Northeast, one example being Mary White Ovington, a founder of the NAACP, Credit Wikimedia Commons
Antiracism has roots that go back to early Christianity and the assimilationist Roman and Hellenistic empires. In its modern form, however, it is a much more recent development, particularly in its special focus on relations between whites and blacks and its emphasis on discrimination as the cause of any mental or behavioral differences. Modern antiracism... Read More
Claude Lévi-Straus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss died six years ago, leaving behind a treasure trove of correspondence and unpublished writings. We can now trace where his ideas came from and how they evolved. I admired Lévi-Strauss during my time as an anthropology student because he asked questions that Marxist anthropologists would never ask. That's why I preferred... Read More
The fascist critique of liberalism influenced America\
This week, I will turn to the third charge in the indictment against the First World War: the rise of fascism. What was fascism? The word itself is problematic. For many, especially those of a Marxist bent, it was an attempt to divert working people from the real cause of their problems. For other, it... Read More
Puck, 1916. The \"postwar\" flapper era had already begun when America entered the war (Wikicommons)
The First World War casts a dark shadow over the 20th century. It shattered the relative peace that had reigned since the Napoleonic Wars, killing some 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians. It is also blamed for causing the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the postwar decline of traditional morality—the flapper era, and the rise... Read More
Massacre of the Serbian royal family, 1903 (Wikicommons). The country became viewed as a rogue state in the hands of Greater Serbia extremists.
Can a small country start a big war? We have the example of the First World War, which was caused by Serbia—or rather by advocates of a Greater Serbia who saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire standing in their way. The empire had to be destroyed, and its destruction could come about only through a major global... Read More
Parsi wedding, 1905 (Wikicommons)
The Parsis are dying out. This people of western India, originally from Iran and famous for their role in trade, science, and industry, may disappear by mid-century, having already fallen from 114,890 in 1941 to 69,001 in 2011. Deaths outnumber births by a ratio of almost three to one. What has caused this calamity? War?... Read More
Compendium on agriculture, Japan, 1782. Rice farming, which requires community planning of water use and irrigation, may have favored a less individualistic mindset in East Asia (Wikicommons)
Kinship is the organizing principle of small human societies, such as bands of hunter-gatherers or small farming villages. This is seen in their notions of right and wrong—the same behavior may be wrong toward kin but right toward non-kin, or at least not punishable. Morality is enforced by social pressure from fellow kinfolk, which in... Read More
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