How art and design can rebuild a community

MIT professor Azra Akšamija creates works of cultural resilience in the face of social conflict.

Credit: Memory Matrix
In the spring of 2016, a striking art installation was constructed outside MIT's building E15.
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We have a new word for that feeling when travel makes everything new

A tourist generally has an eye for the things that have become almost invisible to the resident.

TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images
On a double-decker bus from Dublin airport to Drumcondra early one June morning, a young lad stretched out on the back seat and started to rap.
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Has political correctness gone too far?

The debate over whether or not there is a place for political correctness in modern society is not always black and white.

  • Political correctness is often seen as a debate between two extremes, but there are nuances in the middle of the spectrum. Is there such a thing as being too PC, and if so, where is that line?
  • While philosopher Slavoj Žižek, comedian Lewis Black, and actor Jeff Garlin acknowledge that some topics can be hurtful or even oppressive and should thus be approached with "good taste and self-restraint," they also argue that PC culture has tipped the scales far beyond being balanced. "If we continue to move in that direction," says Black, "then we're going to be living between uptight and stupid and there'll be no in between."
  • Simultaneously, others—including Paul F. Tompkins, Jim Gaffigan, and Martin Amis—argue that political correctness aims to change things for the better, especially for groups who have been marginalized and discriminated against, and that not being sexist and racist, for example, is not actually a heavy lift. "The fact of the matter is these people are the people of today and you might be a person of yesterday if you can't adjust and you can't be in tune with what people think is funny anymore," says Tompkins.

Rousseau explained: What his philosophy means for us

The philosopher who praised a simple life and inspired the worst of the French Revolution.

A portrait of Rousseau by Maurice Quentin de La Tour.

Public Domain
Culture & Religion
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss Enlightenment philosopher with some radical ideas.
  • He argued passionately for democracy, equality, liberty, and supporting the common good by any means necessary.
  • While his ideas may be utopian (or dystopian), they are thought-provoking and can inform modern discourse.
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Turns out those aren't the apostle St James’s bones after all

Research shows that bone fragments of Jesus's (possible) brother belong to someone else.

Saint James the Less, Basilica of St. Vitus in Ellwangen, Germany

Credit: zatletic / Adobe Stock
Culture & Religion
  • New research in Rome has found that bones purported to be from St. James the Less are impossible.
  • The femoral bone fragments date to somewhere between 214 and 340 CE—a few centuries off the mark.
  • The analysis was conducted on bone fragments, oil, and mummy remains in the Basilica dei Santa Apostoli.
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Stonehenge stones came from an even older Welsh stone circle

Waun Maun was an ancient Welsh stone circle that had an awful lot in common with Stonehenge.

Credit: Ty Welch/Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • New research finds that Stonehenge's' bluestones were taken from another, older stone circle in Wales.
  • The site of the older circle is near the quarry from which the bluestones likely came.
  • Researchers believe that at some point the original Welsh builders moved en mass eastward to England, bringing their stones with them.
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