FEMEN’s Inna Shevchenko: We took our bodies and made them into instruments of feminism

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tucked away in plain sight just walking distance from Saint-Germain-des-Prés stands the cosy, mahogany-kissed Café Bonaparte. Just like its immediate vicinity – once the nucleus of French intellectual thought, frequented regularly by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, and, in distant, former times, grand Encyclopédistes such as Voltaire – the café… Continue Reading ➤

Storm in a Samovar: The Unlikely Wonders of Russian Revolutionary Porcelain

Plate with Suprematist Composition by Kasimir Malevich, (1923). Photo © The Petr Aven Collection.

Pyotr Aven, whose porcelain formed part of an acclaimed exhibition at the Royal Academy last year, came to Cambridge last month to speak about his collection publicly for the first time.  Of all the words in the English language that have ever been paired with ‘revolutionary’, it is hard to think of one more deadeningly prosaic than… Continue Reading ➤

Pizza and marinières: Galerie Vivienne welcomes Giesbert’s Da Roco

Across the street from the historic Richelieu site of what is now the National Library of France stands an entrance to Galerie Vivienne, one of the famed covered passages of Paris. The shopping arcade was built in 1823 as Galerie Marchoux (inaugurated in 1826 and renamed Vivienne shortly thereafter) in a neoclassical Pompeian style according… Continue Reading ➤

Transgression: LGBT+ citizenship in a post-Soviet sphere

Photo: Maria Komarova

One Indian summer’s evening, I found myself walking towards the metro along Moscow’s Tverskaya Street. Not far ahead of me, four adolescents – three boys and one girl – appeared wholly content in one another’s company as they engaged in good-natured banter. The group, I soon understood, was composed of two couples: one heterosexual and… Continue Reading ➤

The significance of the Russian Soul in understanding contemporary geopolitics

Photo: Ilia Schelkanov

‘Who would grasp Russia with the mind?  For her no yardstick was created:  Her soul is of a special kind,  By faith alone appreciated.’   – Fyodor Tyutchev (trans. by John Dewey) “Wanted: Russian-speaking spies to help MI5 keep tabs on Vladimir Putin,” read a February Telegraph headline. MI5, MI6 and GCHQ had set a six week-deadline to… Continue Reading ➤

Taipei’s Eslite bookstore: Microcosm of an industry in flux

The Eslite bookstore in Taipei

A bookstore might seem like the last place for young people to be Saturday nights, but the scene at Eslite in central Taiwan is anything but quiet. Towering five stories high, the Eslite flagship store seems to transcend all stereotypes: not only is it attracting customers of all ages and backgrounds, but it has seemingly shrugged… Continue Reading ➤

Brazil’s modernist dream


Brasília, the capital of Brazil, emerges out of the country’s vast central plains like a modernist dream, with its sweeping concrete parabolas and blown open skies. Built in the late 1950s, it was the crown jewel of Brazil’s modernising project, which promised fifty years of development in five. Brasília now rises up as a spectre… Continue Reading ➤

Jordan, Japan and control of the narrative

King Abdullah of Jordan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2013 (Source: World Economic Forum)

The group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) recently set First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, on fire. He had been shot down over Syria on Christmas Eve, during a bombing raid on ISIS bases near the city of Raqqa. On February 3rd, the horrific footage of his execution was… Continue Reading ➤

Mockingbird: Harper Lee’s expression of American change

Harper Lee in 1962, , two years after Mockingbird was published (Source: Jbarta)

The news that Harper Lee was publishing a second novel was greeted by a roar of ecstasy in the literary world and beyond. The BBC described it as launching a ‘‘trade frenzy’’, while the Bookseller magazine anticipates Go Set a Watchman to be ‘‘as big as it gets for new fiction’’, and was told by… Continue Reading ➤