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The Voice Of The Shaman

The Falling Sky, by Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa and French anthropologist Bruce Albert, offers a “vivid and authentic account of shamanistic philosophy … The footnotes alone harbor monographs on Yanomami botany and zoology, mythology, ritual, and history.” Kopenawa’s elaboration of shamanic concepts “goes beyond ethnography and becomes a new genre of native philosophical inquiry” (3,460 words)

Ebola: Failures Of Imagination

Americans may be over-reacting to the dangers posed by a few cases of Ebola at home — but they are certainly under-reacting to the prospect of an Ebola pandemic across the developing world. If Ebola arrives in Chicago or London it can probably be contained. But what if it lands in Mumbai or Karachi? Why aren’t we talking more about this? There is a risk of panic; but the greater risk is a lack of preparedness (2,460 words)

Whose Side Is Turkey On?

Lucid explainer of Turkish dilemma. ISIS jihadis besiege the Syrian town of Kobani, a centre for Kurds, on the border with Turkey. Fighters from the PKK, the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey, flock to defend Kobani. Turkey fears the PKK and ISIS equally. It doesn’t want either to win. But in frustrating a Kurdish victory, Turkey may alienate the West and reignite its domestic conflict with the PKK (3,230 words)

Zero Hour

The wrist-watch crossed the gender gap during the First World War. Until then the “wristlet” had been a woman’s accessory, a jewelled bracelet; men carried pocket watches, which were less convenient and rarely consulted. But the war made accurate timekeeping and a constant awareness of time a matter of general urgency, as new communications technology allowed actions to be coordinated by the minute rather than the day (1,840 words)

Pistorius, Celebrity, And South Africa

Rian Malan continues the work he began in My Traitor’s Heart, of exploring race relations through prominent murder cases. “So Pistorius didn’t intend to kill his lovely blonde girlfriend? He did intend to kill the black man he thought was hiding behind that toilet door. This is the key to understanding ­negative reaction to Judge Masipa’s verdict. For centuries, South Africa was a place where white males did as they pleased” (3,090 words)

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