When English Kings Studied the Learning of the Arabs

abelards-euclid-translated-from-arabic

Once upon a time, Norman kings of England studied the learning of the Arabs. A strange story, largely forgotten. At that time the “English” were subjects of their Normans rulers. And Norman cousins also ruled in another island to the south. Before they arrived it had been called the Emirate of Sicily. The hero of our story is Abelard of Bath…

The Middle West hiding in the Middle East

Dubai

There is something wrong with the term “the Middle East”. To come straight to the point, it should really be the Middle West. Of course it won’t escape the reader’s attention that this thought bubble occurs in a moment angst about the relationship between the “West” and “the Middle East”. And in the western public mind, as projected by popular…

Beginnings Old and New

beginnings

It might seem odd to start an article about beginnings by talking about the end, but that’s the whole point. Our assumption is that time is linear. The beginnings are behind us, and, inexorably, we will arrive at “the end”. And culturally, much of our story telling encourages us to have the sneaking fear that our collective end will be horrible. The dystopian…

The Poetry of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Racism and problems of race relations continue to generate injustice and racial animosity around the world. The problem is not confined to any one people or country, but the case of the United States is better known in the English speaking world. The poetry of Langston Hughes comes from a period in which racism had reached a peak – what…

Electing the President

Electing the President

There is something fascinating about the “contest” which elects the President of the United States. The 2016 election is no exception. Candidates who weren’t imagined before the election year have come to the fore and with them the discourse and the “contest” has been thrown open. Issues of gender are right on the surface. And the fact that a women…

Agora movie – seeing ourselves through an alien past

rp_agoraposters-e1455331882263.png

The movie Agora (director Alejandro Amenábar) is not history, but perhaps, it rises to allegory. It is well worth watching, despite its ‘interpretative’ approach to history. It is a movie which captures deeper truths about human relationships and its fictionalized past helps us understand the challenges of our conflicted present. The struggles of Agora’s characters are enriched by Dario Marianelli’s…

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 2048

udhr cc attrib https://www.flickr.com/photos/artmakesmesmile/2516476754

Will the future of human rights look like this? After a century of unimaginable suffering in which hundreds of millions of human beings lived in slave like conditions; wars killed millions; millions more fled – many condemned for generations to squalid “refugee” camps; millions starved; where national democracies collapsed under the weight of sectional interests and armed conflict and the…