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Madmen and Specialists

Anthony Appiah, 7 September 1995

Colonial Psychiatry and the ‘African Mind’ 
by Jock McCulloch.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 521 45330 5
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... If you’ve ever spent some time in a Ghanaian town, such as Kumasi, in Asante region, you will occasionally have seen people half-clothed in filthy rags, hair matted with the red-brown dust thrown up from the laterite earth, wandering the streets largely unmolested; talking, perhaps, to themselves; begging sometimes; or scratching through rubbish heaps looking for something to eat ...
Congo Journey 
by Redmond O’Hanlon.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £18, October 1996, 0 241 12768 8
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... Redmond O’Hanlon’s account of a journey to Borneo, undertaken with the poet James Fenton, was a grand deception, in which the ostensible search for an indigenous rhinoceros on the slopes of a mountain fastness turned out to be so much camouflage. Clues as to what was really happening could be glimpsed in the structure of O’Hanlon’s narrative ...

Whose Nuremberg Laws?

Jeremy Waldron: Race, 19 March 1998

Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race 
by Patricia Williams.
Virago, 72 pp., £5.99, April 1997, 1 86049 365 3
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Colour Conscious: The Political Morality of Race 
by Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann.
Princeton, 200 pp., £11.95, May 1998, 0 691 05909 8
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Race: The History of an Idea in the West 
by Ivan Hannaford.
Johns Hopkins, 464 pp., £49.50, June 1996, 0 8018 5222 6
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... culture’ or ‘American culture’ or, unselfconsciously, simply the way things are. Wilkins, Appiah, Gutmann and Williams are suspicious of white proposals to create a colour-blind world, what Williams calls a ‘prematurely imagined community’, characterised by ‘the majoritarian privilege of never noticing oneself’, ‘the profoundly invested ...

Pick the small ones

Marina Warner: Girls Are Rubbish, 17 February 2005

Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World 
by Mineke Schipper.
Yale, 422 pp., £35, April 2004, 0 300 10249 6
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... on clay tablets near Baghdad in 1963, jostle Ghanaian proverbs collected by Schipper from Peggy Appiah and her son Kwame Anthony Appiah; Persian mottoes are lined up beside Brazilian, Finnish, Irish and Creole ones, as well as numerous examples from different African regions and groupings. Schipper stoutly defends ...

Huffing Along

Lorin Stein: The Emperor of Ocean Park, 8 August 2002

The Emperor of Ocean Park 
by Stephen L. Carter.
Cape, 657 pp., £18, June 2002, 0 224 06284 0
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... and it has been reviewed by everyone from Grisham himself, on Good Morning America, to K. Anthony Appiah in the New York Review of Books – have politely overlooked the goofiness of the plot and praised the novel, which is set largely in the well-to-do black neighbourhoods of Washington, D.C. and Martha’s Vineyard, as a piece of groundbreaking ...

Next Stop, Reims

Ardis Butterfield: Medieval Literary Itineraries, 26 April 2018

Europe: A Literary History, 1348-1418 
by David Wallace.
Oxford, 1591 pp., £180, April 2016, 978 0 19 873535 9
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... with aggression, enforced displacement, torture and death. In Cosmopolitanism (2006), Kwame Anthony Appiah cites Voltaire: ‘Fed by the products of their soil, dressed in their fabrics, amused by games they invented, instructed even by their ancient moral fables, why would we neglect to understand the mind of these nations, among whom our European ...

At the Crossroads Hour

Lewis Nkosi: Chinua Achebe, 12 November 1998

Chinua Achebe: A Biography 
by Ezenwa-Ohaeto.
Curry, 326 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 253 33342 3
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... but for a lost initiative whose recovery has become a project for an entire generation. Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Ghanaian philosopher, argues that African writers are not concerned with ‘an inner voyage of discovery’. According to him, ‘their problem – though not, of course, their subject – is finding a public role, not a private ...

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