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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)

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 sort of 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)

My Grandma The Poisoner

“People were always dying around Grandma — her children, her husbands, her boyfriend — so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed was to know that mothers don’t get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don’t wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer” (4,025 words)

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