Ancient Causes of a Modern Conflict in Mali

The unrest that dethroned Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure and his administration in 2012 has marred the country for the past two years, generating a stream of conflicts involving the military, the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), and Islamic fundamentalist groups. Several towns have been taken over by combatants, who in … Read more

Currency Wars

One hundred and sixty years ago, the United States made a bold and fundamental alteration to the structure of its currency by eliminating the half-cent. Ever since, the basic denominations with which we exchange goods and services have been more or less constant. Meanwhile, inflation has drastically altered purchasing power to the point that today’s dime … Read more

Politics and Poetics in Fiction: Telex From Cuba

The prologue of Telex From Cuba, published in 2008, opens with a young girl, Everly Lederer, fascinated by the notion of a physical boundary, the Tropic of Cancer, represented as a simple line on her globe. With her unconstrained imagination, “she pictured daisy chains of seaweed stretching across the water toward a distant horizon.” When … Read more

A Brave New World: Spotify and the Future of Music

For most of the 20th century, changes in the music industry were limited to hardware. The gramophone became the record player, which eventually became the hi-fi and later, the at-the-time revolutionary CD. The biggest labels dominated the industry, supervising the mass dissemination and release of albums in an age of limited media. Like a venture … Read more

Still a Long Walk to Freedom: South Africa After Mandela

In the spring of 1994, South Africa overcame mountainous obstacles to end apartheid and elect Nelson Mandela as its first black president. Twenty years later, it’s facing many more challenges, this time without the leadership of the man who united and healed a nation bitterly divided. Mandela left behind a legacy of democracy that in … Read more

If the Boot Doesn’t Fit: Why Protests in Italy Cannot Bring about a Social Revolution

“We will not stop until we have a revolution!” yelled several protestors, collected in Piazza Castello in Turin, Italy. It was December 9, 2013 and the movement known as “I Forconi” (the Pitchforks) was at the peak of its strength, paralyzing many Italian freeways, commercial centers, and other strategic hotspots. With leafleting, demonstrations, and violence, … Read more