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Constitutional conventions: best practice

Welcome to Arts & Cultures, where you will find world-class reviews of literature, film and music. You will also find kaleidoscopic analysis of everyday objects, from hair to shorelines.

Ingmar Bergman and Sweden: an epoch’s end

The great film and theatre director was at the heart of Sweden's cultural life for more than five decades, but Ingmar Bergman's relationship with his homeland was conflictual as well as intimate. Birgitta Steene, the world's leading authority on Bergman's work, tracks this long journey.

(This article was first published on 6 August 2007)

The moon landing: an openDemocracy symposium

When the Apollo 11 rocket landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, openDemocracy asked some of its contributors to offer their thoughts. At the time, we were still publishing on vellum. David Hayes tracks down the archives - now buried deep in a vault at a secret location somewhere in England - and transcribes a selection of our material from this landmark in history.

(This article was first publshed on 21 July 2009)

Pina Bausch: dancing the times

“Pina Bausch has her finger on the unconscious pulse of the day.” Julia Dover, a filmmaker, writes on the subversive and compassionate power of the German choreographer extraordinaire.

(This article was first published on 10 March 2005)

A new politics? Move out of Westminster...

...and let light, air, ideas, energy and people into a modern parliament, says David Hayes.

Plus: Edwin Morgan's poem, Open the Doors! (2004)

(This article was first published on 12 June 2009)

Sniper under seige

The following letter reached openDemocracy from Tehran, accompanied by this story about the relationship between a sniper and his target. It could have been told yesterday, though it is in fact a flashback to the Iran-Iraq War

John Updike: singing America

The death of a writer of epic achievement and endless grace leaves a sense of profound loss. James Schiff celebrates and mourns "the largest literary figure in America during my lifetime". 

Susan Sontag: holding herself to account

The youthful journals of the late American writer trace the consuming passions for life, ideas and the desired other that burned within, says Angela McRobbie.

Entropa: art of politics, heart of a nation

A Czech artist's Europe-wide hoax stirred particular outrage in a troubled Bulgaria. But the affair reveals deeper truths about the country - and about art itself, says Dessy Gavrilova.

(This article was first published on 16 January 2009) 

Claude Lévi-Strauss at 100: echo of the future

The ideas of the pioneering anthropologist still inform contemporary understandings of the human mind and its cultures, says Dan Sperber.

Roberto Saviano: an Italian dissident

The author of "Gomorrah" - a fearless anatomy of the Naples mafia - is willing to risk his own life to expose a modern criminal-business empire, says Geoff Andrews. 

Black glove/white glove: revisiting Mexico's 1968

The persistence of Mexican writers in seeking to expose the truth about state massacres of students during and after the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is illuminating Mexico's past.

(This article was first published on 25 August 2004)

The dark (k)night of a postmodern world

Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is a parable for our time that offers a bleak insight into the moral bankruptcy of democracy in a post-9/11 world, says Tina Beattie.

A prayer and a poem

"Everything ends in one minute." openDemocracy publishes two new works written by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in response to war’s crimes and destruction.

(This article was first published on 12 September 2006)

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: the line within

The prophetic message of Alexander Solzhenitsyn transcends the circumstances that gave rise to it, says Roger Scruton.


A world split apart

The novels and essays of the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) eviscerated the moral foundations of Soviet rule. But his Harvard address of June 1978 confirmed that the core of his intellectual project was a spiritual rather than political one - and that the west's failures were just as much in his sights

Youssef Chahine, the life-world of film

A great filmmaker of Alexandria and Egypt portrayed his country with a singular, passionate vision that remained constant in face of criticism and adulation alike. Tarek Osman pays tribute to Youssef Chahine

Asylum aside: making it real

What turns a bystander into a playwright? And how do you know if you are just preaching to the converted? Only the best will do when you are working with those seeking asylum.

Byzantium: always an Empire, never a Nation

In a response to Judith Herrin's new history, the example of Byzantium inspires some contemporary reflections from Tom Nairn in Melbourne's Arena magazine, republished with kind permission.

Real England? Reflections on Broadway Market

An enduring narrative of England - one with radical as well as conservative variants - sees it as a country besieged by hostile forces, its traditions under threat. A lively London market gives Patrick Wright a fresh perspective on the habit of "conceiving England as a heritage in danger".

Sakura

The life-cycle of Japanese people unfolds to the eternal transience of their sakura blossom, says Misaki Kamouchi.

(This article was first published on 29 July 2004)

Tibet's postal protest

China's government claims it is protecting Tibet's culture, but Tibetan activists find their tongues tied by Chinese bureaucratic knots. Ugen, an exile from the Ando region, proposes a novel form of dissent

(This article was first published on 4 November 2005)

Clowning glories: Hollywood's screwball women

Kasia Boddy welcomes a London retrospective showcasing comediennes of classical Hollywood, and celebrates the brief reign of screwball's madcap women.

One day of life: a Romanian odyssey

Cristian Mungiu's portrait of a young woman's illegal abortion in Ceausescu-era Romania makes humane and moving art from its bleak subject-matter, says Grace Davies.

How to talk about things we know nothing about

The shift from the age of the polymath to that of the expert has diminished as well as expanded the potential field of human knowledge. Can intelligent dialogue survive a fog of collective ignorance, asks Keith Kahn-Harris.

The heart of Simone de Beauvoir

Lisa Appignanesi explores the enigmatic appeal of the great French feminist writer.

(This article was first published on 13 July 2005)

Astrid Lindgren’s legacy

The imaginative landscape of Pippi Longstocking's creator encompassed a profound social commitment. On the centenary of Astrid Lindgren's birth, Birgitta Steene reflects on a Swedish writer who made an exceptional contribution to literature and public life in her homeland yet who belongs also to the world.

Norman Mailer: a boxing life

The protean symbolism of the boxing-match was the arena of Norman Mailer's journey from "nice Jewish boy" to combative literary pugilist, says Kasia Boddy.

Doris Lessing: writing against and for

The Nobel literature award honours an eternal outsider whose critical distance from orthodoxy fuels her work's remarkable "predictive" quality, says Susan Watkins.

[Also on openDemocracy: Müge Galin on the Sufi dimension of Doris Lessing's work - click here]

Chechnya: Russia's shame

Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist renowned and assailed for her work in uncovering the brutalities of the war in Chechnya, was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006. In tribute, openDemocracy publishes extracts from work which earned her the 2003 Ulysses prize for the art of reportage.

(This article was originally published 9 October 2006)

An Ethiopian hero: Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin (1936 - 2006)

Richard Pankhurst charts the life and career of one of African literature’s most distinguished figures, Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin.

(This article was first published 13 March 2006)

The case for pre-emption: Alan M Dershowitz reviewed

Alan Dershowitz's advocacy of new rules to codify pre-emptive state attacks in the era of "war on terror" is partisan sophistry with chilling historical echoes, says Neal Ascherson.

(This article was first published on 18 May 2006)

Becoming Pakistani

As a small child, Maruf Khwaja’s life was transformed by the carving of his mother country into two nations, India and Pakistan. He recalls a time of terror, and a journey to survival.

(This article was first published on 19 August 2004)

Restoring history in China

The combined effects of dogmatic communism and rampant capitalism over the last fifty years have devastated much of China's unique architectural heritage. Edward Denison records in words and images the efforts to preserve what is left for future generations.

After Hiroshima: nuclear imaginaries

It has been sixty years since the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. openDemocracy presents images from a special multimedia exhibition “After Hiroshima: nuclear imaginaries” involving artists from Japan, America, Britain and Russia. Hosted at the Brunei Gallery and curated by Siumee Keelan, the exhibition explores contemporary visions of nuclear conflict.

Ingmar Bergman: the sense of the world

The great Swedish filmmaker, who died on 30 July 2007, made art that speaks profoundly to the truth of ourselves, says Roger Scruton.

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