Psychology & Anthropology

An 18th-century Mexican casta painting.

The Limits of Caste

Hazel V. Carby

21 January 2021

Race, Isabel Wilkerson claims, is ‘a recent phenomenon in human history’, deriving from the Spanish word raza (in the context of the Atlantic slave trade), and ‘caste’ the much older term. She is thinking here of India, but ‘caste’ is neither more rigid nor much older than the concept of ‘race’.

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Tantra

James Butler

21 January 2021

It began​ with the beheading of a god. In a dispute over theological primacy, Brahma – traditionally identified as the creator – insulted Shiva. The offended deity poured all his anger . . .

Reading Bones

Gavin Francis

21 January 2021

Ian​ Hamilton once recounted in the LRB (22 October 1992) that ‘when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming “Hi, Norman!” in . . .

Among the Neanderthals

John Lanchester

17 December 2020

Our early forebears​ continue to be very good at getting in the news. In 2003, on the island of Flores in Indonesia, a team of archaeologists investigating the movement of humans from Asia to Australia . . .

To Die One’s Own Death

Jacqueline Rose

19 November 2020

What is left of the inner life when the world turns more cruel, or appears to turn more cruel, than ever before? When it reels from inflicted blows – pandemic, war, starvation, climate devastation . . .

Where on Earth are you?

Frances Stonor Saunders, 3 March 2016

We construct borders, literally and figuratively, to fortify our sense of who we are; and we cross them in search of who we might become.

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Against Self-Criticism

Adam Phillips, 5 March 2015

Lacan​ said that there was surely something ironic about Christ’s injunction to love thy neighbour as thyself – because actually, of course, people hate themselves. Or you could say that, given the way people treat one another, perhaps they had always loved their neighbours in the way they loved themselves.

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Ghosts of the Tsunami

Richard Lloyd Parry, 6 February 2014

I met a priest in the north of Japan who exorcised the spirits of people who had drowned in the tsunami.

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Sinking Giggling into the Sea: Giggling along with Boris

Jonathan Coe, 18 July 2013

Boris Johnson has become his own satirist, safe in the knowledge that the best way to make sure the satire aimed at you is gentle and unchallenging is to create it yourself.

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Among the Flutterers: The Pope Wears Prada

Colm Tóibín, 19 August 2010

In 1993 John McGahern wrote an essay called ‘The Church and Its Spire’, in which he considered his own relationship to the Catholic Church. He made no mention of the fact that he had,...

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The Uninvited: At The Rich Man’s Gate

Jeremy Harding, 3 February 2000

Refugees are not necessarily poor, but by the time they have reached safety, the human trafficking organisations on which they depend have eaten up much of their capital. In the course of excruciating journeys, mental and physiological resources are also expended – some of them non-renewable.

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Dynasty: Lacan and Co

Sherry Turkle, 6 December 1990

Freud believed that psychoanalysis was so deeply subversive of people’s most cherished beliefs that only resistance to psychoanalytic ideas would reveal where they were being taken...

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Fortress Freud

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 18 April 1985

Psychoanalysts have a difficult relationship with the rest of the world – or, as they sometimes call it, ‘the goyim’. Janet Malcolm’s two very striking books of reportage,...

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Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

‘Havelock Ellis has sent me the sixth volume of his studies, Sex in Relation to Society,’ Freud wrote to Jung, in late April 1910. ‘Unfortunately my receptivity is consumed by...

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Mothers were different: The Breadwinner Norm

Susan Pedersen, 19 November 2020

Fathers sat down to a kipper or a boiled egg at breakfast (and gave one fav­oured child the top); their dependants ate porridge. Kind fathers sometimes shared tidbits; others avoided the whole drama...

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Cultural conservatives aren’t trying to protect language from politics; they are simply sanguine about the politics that language already has. 

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Not in Spanish: Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann, 21 May 2020

The author is obviously in love with his subject, taking it everywhere with him, seeing it wherever he goes. ‘Most of the people I know are bilingual’ is his delightful shrug.

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Short Cuts: Internet Speak

Lauren Oyler, 7 May 2020

The tone of my correspondence veers from ebullient to combative to conspiratorial to semi-ironically frustrated, outraged, mournful. A message that follows spelling and grammar conventions is rare; it’s...

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Beyond​ a few tabloid stories, the Westboro Baptist Church didn’t really hit the news until 2005, when its members started picketing funerals of soldiers killed in the Iraq War, with signs...

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Once democracy and public argument are premised on the logic of the platform, it simply doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, so long as they remain engaged and engaging. President Trump is the...

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Tilting the day: Writing about Clothes

Lisa Cohen, 7 November 2019

‘About​ clothes, it’s awful,’ the protagonist thinks in Jean Rhys’s novel Voyage in the Dark (1934). Everything makes you want pretty clothes like hell. People laugh at...

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How to Buy Drugs

Misha Glenny and Callum Lang, 7 November 2019

Once you’ve placed your order, you should expect to pick up the drugs at the designated rendezvous point within an hour or so. If you find yourself having to wait any longer you may want to choose...

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The Greer Method

Mary Beard, 24 October 2019

What is driving these attacks? Why are her critics so determined to deplore and ridicule? What lies behind the selective misreading that turns a provocative pamphlet, no more flawed than many others of...

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My mother’s​ right hand ended in a cloth. She cleaned the local school from six a.m. and again in the evening, doing a chip shop in between. I got to know all the women. They were...

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Soothe and Scold: Mothers

Helen McCarthy, 12 September 2019

My first child​ was born in a hospital room in East London on a February morning after 12 hours of labour. Our doula, who had arrived the previous evening, bringing cushions in a supermarket...

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Civility​ as a concept, or an ideal, didn’t take hold in England until the 16th century – when the national mood, insofar as we can speak of one, was a mixture of bravado and...

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The important question is not whether a truly gender-blind capitalism is possible, but whether that would be an equality worth fighting for.

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The Jubilee Line​ used to be one of the better London Underground lines to travel on if, like me, you have Crohn’s disease. When the line was extended in the late 1990s, some of the new...

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‘I’m not racist, but …’

Daniel Trilling, 18 April 2019

The word​ ‘Caucasian’ was first used as a term for white people in the late 18th century, by men who believed they were making objective scientific judgments about the world. In...

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Short Cuts: The p-p-porn ban

Tom Crewe, 4 April 2019

Have​ you p-p-picked up a porn pass? In April the UK government plans to introduce – or at least plans to announce a definite date for the introduction of – the world’s first...

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Since OxyContin’s arrival on the US market in 1996, a widespread increase in opiate use in America has killed more than 400,000 people. Drug overdoses have been the leading cause of accidental death...

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Unforgiven: ‘Down Girl’

Adam Phillips, 7 March 2019

Kate Manne knows that a book about misogyny is going to be preaching to the converted, when the converted don’t necessarily know what or how they think.

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