Putin’s cultural nationalism

On March 25, Vladimir Putin gave a speech to Russian writers and artists that was widely covered because he mentioned Western “cancel culture”–thereby demonstrating a familiarity with US talking points. His speech also reflected a widespread but problematic view of the relationship between nations (or peoples) and cultures. This theory is basic to various forms […]

a richer sense of cultural interchange

Some people (I have no idea how many) presume that cultures belong authentically and originally to specific groups of human beings, and when we see aspects of a culture diffuse from their source, that is usually a sign of appropriation (wrongly taking someone else’s property) or else imperialism (imposing one’s culture on others). These are […]

cultural mixing and power

  These two objects were juxtaposed during a wonderful Tisch Talk in the Humanities yesterday, with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Lisa Lowe from Tufts’ Department of English. On the left, an 18th century desk made in colonial Mexico that’s now in the Boston Museum of Fine […]

a mistaken view of culture

Until the 1800s, culture was not a “count noun,” a noun that can take a plural form. It was a “mass noun,” which identified a quality that could come in degrees. In English, people did not speak of “cultures” but saw individuals as having more or less culture. Europeans’ awareness of cultural diversity was generally […]

explaining the crisis in architecture

Tyler Cowen recently posed the “mystifying question: Why has our advanced, modern and wealthy world ceased building beautiful neighborhoods?” He notes that the “modern world has produced striking individual buildings, such as Guggenheim Bilbao or the Seattle Public Library, among many others.” But “modern residential neighborhoods are not very aesthetically appealing.” He adds, “This is not […]