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This week’s front page editor


Julian Richards is openDemocracy’s managing editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

VIDEO: 'Reimagining progress: Voices from the Ecuadorian Amazon'

In their resistance to the foreign oil consortiums, Ecuador's indigenous communities are not only fighting for themselves, but also for indigenous peoples in every part of the world.

The battle to preserve Bethlehem's cultural heritage

Open Bethlehem is a campaign to revive Bethlehem's legacy as a diverse, culturally rich, and entrepreneurial city, after decades of being suffocated by occupation.

Lower aspirations for higher education

The British university system was until recently seen as one of the best in the world. Now students pay dearly for the privilege of supporting big business, says Barbara Gunnell 

She Left Me the Gun: on story-telling and re-telling

Emma Brockes’ exploration of her mother’s life in South Africa, and what made her leave, is also a study in writing the complexity of women’s lives, and the powerful and elusive nature of story-telling.

Anti-immigrant sentiment: time to talk about gender?

The way in which gender figures in the picture of anti-immigrant sentiment is rarely discussed, yet anti-immigrant sentiment, wherever it is found, represents a rejection of ‘feminized’ populations and a concern with a national illusion that is distinctly masculine.

UKIP on the march in Britain

The success of the UK Independence Party in local elections indicates a lack of trust in mainstream politicians on migration. This leaves the pro-migration lobby with a bigger role than ever, and some challenging questions about how to impact on public opinion

Saving NSCAD: Why art education could save us, but first we must save it

Art schools are vital eco-systems that both reflect and contribute to the health of the society in which they are found.  We need them more than ever.

Orenburg shawls: a classic of Russian folk art

Gossamer or spider web shawls have been knitted in Orenburg for generations. The tradition nearly disappeared, but folk crafts are in the ascendant again — there is money to be made from them, after all, says Elena Strelnikova

In memoriam Valery Abramkin, Russia's prison reformer

Celebrated Russian activist Valery Abramkin has died aged 66. Here we republish extracts from a lecture delivered in 2006, which contains many fascinating insights into the rules of behaviour, hierarchies and relationships within Soviet and Russian prisons. (With a foreword by Mary

A Singapore Ramayana: academic freedom and the liberal arts curriculum

Could Singaporeans of the future do a better job at making democracy a reality than America’s elected leaders have done for the past half-century? Maybe, if one of the most important literary works of premodern India is taught again at the recently created Yale-NUS in Singapore.

Our fallible prophet

Rational reflection and reasoning should not be a threat to religion. Drawing on religious texts, the author argues Muslims should embrace the fallibility of the prophet, and so free themselves of the shackles of history and paralyzing dogmas.

Life under the Soviets and after: a photographer’s story

London’s Pushkin House has been showing an exhibition of work by the renowned Lithuanian photographer Antanas Sutkus. Masha Karp looks at why his work of the 1960s-70s is still relevant now.


The Women's Library in London: a khôra and a call to arms

At a time in which the word ‘occupy’ has become synonymous with social movements, the threat of closure to The Women’s Library is a crucial reminder that women’s history must also occupy its own space in order to maintain the public profile of women's activism in Britain.

The great unmentionable in disability politics

"I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son's disability". The grief of those who care for people with a disability is betrayal of the Cause. Rahila Gupta asks: how do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability?

Tbilisi – where ‘restoration’ means redevelopment

Georgia’s capital is undergoing a massive rebuilding programme, with shabby historical buildings being replaced with facsimiles, complete with plastic ornamentation. But, as documentary filmmaker Salomé Jashi writes, an iconic square in old Tbilisi is being threatened with an even more radical remake.

Britain and the problem of living in the past

As Jubilee celebrations die down in the short period of calm before the Olympics, questions arise about what all this means, what Britain and Britishness is, and what the future might be for both.

Why are Pussy Riot girls still in prison?

Reaction inside Russia and further afield to the imprisonment of 3 members of a punk rock girl band after their performance in one of Moscow’s cathedrals has been by turns outraged and baffled. The girls are still on remand, awaiting trial for hooliganism (maximum sentence 7 years). One can only hope they will triumph in the end, says Yelena Fedotova

India is ready for change, but censorship, taxation and corruption plagued the Art Fair

Mixed news from the fine art scene in India. The fourth annual Indian Art Fair was hailed as a great success, but censorship issues can restrain artists and curators in subtle ways — logistically as well as creatively

The case of the stolen children: notes on a Scandinavian state and society

The children of Indian citizens living in Norway may have been taken on the pretext of the rights of the child, but Norway’s handling of the issue reveals the dark side of paternalism as a fig-leaf for xenophobia

The one sure way to reduce prostitution: heroin prescription

We are at a point in the drugs policy debate now where it is no longer heretical to critique conventional wisdom; that is, to critique a policy which bears virtually zero relation to medical and sociological evidence. How many more women have to beaten, raped, or murdered before we finally see sense?

Forbidden art: an oasis in the desert

A recent documentary, “The Desert of Forbidden Art”, tells of a cultural and social phenomenon hidden in the deserts of Uzbekistan. The museum has miraculously preserved rich collections of Soviet avant-garde art, but will it be able to survive under new – completely different, but no less threatening – conditions? The film also illuminates the relationship between the state and the individual, writes Masha Karp

War theater: Black Watch

Rahul Rao reviews the play Black Watch, which has become one of the most celebrated contemporary "war plays" since it first opened in 2006.

Review: Granta, The Magazine of New Writing, Issue 112: Pakistan, 2010

It is difficult, if not outright impossible, to talk about Pakistan without also talking about the politics of the region. As such Granta Magazine's latest issue, Pakistan, is perhaps the magazine's most political work to date. openDemocracy's Luke Heighton responds to the issue's highly political short fiction, art and essay.

Dissident imports

The Guardian once referred to the Shanghai Bienniale as the Chinese government’s effort to “co-opt contemporary art to advertise the productivity and tolerance of a new China.” As the art world co-opts another Chinese dissident perhaps we should ask what is being advertised in return?

Call for submissions, The architecture of war

openDemocracy's Discourses series is currently taking artistic submissions for our next event, The architecture of war, opening on January 6, 2011.

20, 2000 and 2: the three shadows of Facebook

The eternal campus of the global middle class; the solution to the injunction to love ones fellow; a riskless replacement to reality. You could not have designed Facebook better to opiate 21st Century occidentals

We’re all in this together – right?

How can the people who constitute a radical space of difference, an entirely different reality, be artistically represented? Laurie Waller and Elvia Vasconcelos explain the use of mirrors when artistically representing the subaltern.

What’s going on in representation?

In the run up to openDemocracy's next Discourses event, Subaltern voices, Michael Saward looks at the ramifications of claims of political representation.

Cycling for Gaza

The Cycling4Gaza challenge offers concerned people a unique opportunity to raise both money and awareness for those suffering in Gaza.

Subaltern voices

The next installment of openDemocracy's Discourses series, Subaltern voices, opens October 7th, at 6pm.

Russian documentary film: extinct, or almost. Interview with Vitaly Mansky

In the late 80s Russians flocked to documentary films to find out about their ‘lost’ history. Now they’re becoming extinct. Putin’s regime doesn’t even use them for propaganda purposes. Mumin Shakirov interviews the celebrated documentary film maker Vitaly Mansky. Part one

Saxon villages: restoration is for the future

The work of restoring the Romanian Saxon Transylvanian villages, as undertaken by the Mihai Eminescu Trust is not romantic or nostalgic: it is about establishing sustainable, proud livelihoods

Transylvanian villages: conservationism, but at what price?

The interest in preservation and conservation of old, yet changed Saxon villages throughout Transylvania, often clashes with the interests of the present Gypsies and Romanians that live there today.

Summer days at the dacha

In theory, Russians can holiday abroad these days. In practice, most can't afford it. Still, there are the pleasures of summer days at the dacha. But what with falling water levels and paying beaches, things aren't what they used to be. It's hard work too, growing vegetables, grumbles Elena Strelnikova

Can you represent the subaltern?

Call for artistic submissions for openDemocracy's next Discourses event, Subaltern voices, opening on October 7th.
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