Table of contents
A crowd faces a large outdoor screen showing video of a nuclear missile launching into a blue sky. Several buses are visible in the background.

What Commentators Get Wrong (and Right) About North Korea

An anthropologist argues that unfair portrayals of North Korea as a hopelessly irrational hermit state has huge implications for policy and security.
durkheim trump - Does a written constitution ensure a more democratic society?

Without Norms, Societies Fall Apart

Written rules about how to govern only work if they are backed up by unwritten values shared across the political spectrum. Over the past four years, Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on U.S. democratic norms have taken a toll.
universities covid risk

Will U.S. University Students Spread COVID-19?

Universities are planning to open across the United States with strategies based on fantasy documents and magical thinking.
Some protestors address police officers directly in an attempt to engage them as individuals.

Can Protestors Humanize the Police?

An anthropologist asks whether U.S. police are people serving the people—or are anonymous drones of state violence.
covid-19 magic

COVID-19 and the Turn to Magical Thinking

From bogus miracle cures and dangerous conspiracy theories to powerful shows of weaponry, across the globe, the coronavirus pandemic is evoking all manner of magical thinking.
coronavirus risk perception

The Problem of Imagining the Real

One of the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis is taking serious action against a threat that seems so abstract and intangible.
coronavirus name - In President Donald Trump's notes for a COVID-19 briefing on March 19, the word “corona” was crossed out and replaced with "Chinese" virus.

What’s Wrong With “the Chinese Virus”?

An anthropologist explores the controversial labels for COVID-19.
Bosnian cellist Vedran Smailovic plays an elegy in Sarajevo’s blasted and burned library.

Why Targeting Heritage Is a Crime Against Humanity

Trump’s threats to Iran’s cultural treasures are the latest in a long history of such tactics. Thousands of artistic and architectural marvels have been destroyed in wars—a travesty that must be stopped.
war memorials

Reconsidering How We Honor Those Lost to War

War monuments and memorials are a source of contention in the United States. It’s time to reimagine the ways we memorialize the heroes and victims of war.
Trump authoritarian - In the era of Vladimir Putin’s rule, Russia has largely moved away from representative democracy toward authoritarian oligarchy.

Trump L’oeil

In its first six weeks, the Trump administration has been actively demonizing the mainstream media and the courts. This could be an ominous sign of what is to come.
Power of Rumors

How Rumors Tap and Fuel Anxieties in the Internet Age

Viral fake-news stories like Pizzagate are having a surprisingly significant influence, and they are only going to proliferate.
Trump foreign policy - Foreign policy for a Donald Trump presidency would include constant threat as diplomacy, and bullying and domination as strategies.

Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy: Bullying, Domination, and Fearmongering

A Trump presidency would mean the end of diplomacy as we know it.

Understanding Mass Killings

A disproportionate number of mass killings in the U.S. have been committed by military veterans. We should be asking ourselves why.

Parting Words

Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson traces the history of combat casualties attempting to communicate beyond death, from Gallipoli to nuclear war.