Arts & Culture
Guinier on Redefining Merit
How Terrorists Are Made
A brilliant lecture by Lani Guinier, professor of law at Harvard and civil rights activist, on what merit means, why we need to redefine it, the benefits of diversity in approaching complex problems, and more.
Anthropologist Scott Atran, compelling as usual, talks to Robert Wright about what creates terrorists, the subject matter of his book a year ago, Talking to the Enemy.
The Perils of Personalization
For over a decade, personalization has been a growing trend on the Internet. It feels nice, this idea of news, information, and services customized for our individual interests. But does it have any downsides?
The Danger of a Single Story
This talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie is not to be missed by anyone interested in stories, language, reading and writing, not to mention class, politics, history, cultural and imperial hegemony, mental colonization, and so much more.
Rao on Indus Valley Inscriptions
Rajesh Rao on the challenge of deciphering the 4000-year-old inscriptions of the Indus Valley Civilization, including whether they represent a linguistic script or a non-linguistic symbol system.
The Tribes of the Deccan
A documentary based on the footage gathered by Austrian anthropologist Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf on the hill tribes of South India in the 1940s, including the tribes of Chenchus, Reddis, Koyas, Bondos, Gadabas, and more.
Debate in Tibetan Buddhism
Have you heard of the 900+ years old debating tradition of Tibet? This Asia Society video introduces the tradition and showcases four debating Tibetan monks.
How Language Shapes Thought
The structure of particular languages affect the way we attend to, encode, represent, remember, and reason about the world—a brilliant lecture by Lera Boroditsky.
An intelligent British documentary that looks at our ideas of success and failure, the anxiety we feel over our careers, the envy our peers evoke in us, and why it's harder now to feel calm than ever before.
Look out for Human Planet from the BBC, "an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping landmark series that marvels at mankind's incredible relationship with nature in the world today."
Arab Poetry of Resistance
Sudhanva Deshpande recites a few poems of resistance from the great poets of the Arab world, including Palestine and the Middle-East.
Race vs. Class: The Future of Affirmative Action
An excellent 2009 debate and Q&A on the following motion: "Affirmative action policies should focus on class and wealth rather than race and ethnicity."
A 3-part NOVA documentary on human evolution, focusing on the last few million years of our story, incorporating some of the latest findings from various fields of anthropology.
Readings from 'Tablet & Pen'
An evening of music, poetry, and other readings inspired by a new anthology of Middle Eastern literature, Tablet & Pen, hosted by its editor Reza Aslan
The Secret Powers of Time
Philip Zimbardo "conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world."
Schneier on Security
Know any examples of an absurdly disproportionate response to a security failure? Check out Bruce Schneier on how to think about security.
Last Hippie Standing
A documentary on Goa, "the hippie paradise of the 60s", with interesting footage from that period, including their wild parties and the Anjuna flea market.
Ithaca by Cavafy
Sean Connery's marvelous reading of Ithaca, the gorgeous poem by CP Cavafy (translated from the Greek).
Fair and Lovely?
Al Jazeera reports on India's obsession with fair skin.
A lecture on Bollywood by Rachel Dwyer, Prof of Indian Cultures and Cinema at the University of London (Nov 09), including how "Hindi cinema is a guide to modern India".
The Lost Art of Democratic Debate
The inimitable Michael Sandel's TED talk, a short digest of his brilliant Harvard course that I heartily recommend for one and all.
On Power, Human Nature, Justice
A 1971 exchange between Chomsky and Foucault (I especially resonate with the latter's take on these topics).
The Battle for Niyamgiri
The "Avatar style" battle between the big bad British corporation Vedanta Resources and Dongria Kondh, an endangered Primitive Tribal Group in Orissa, India, has attracted the attention of Bianca Jagger.
Radical Women, Embracing Tradition
"Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women talks about three encounters with powerful women who fight to make the world better—while preserving the traditions that sustain them."
The Mahabharata: A Conversation
Ashis Nandy and Gurcharan Das discuss the Mahabharata.
Dance to Change the World
At TEDIndia, Mallika Sarabhai, a dancer, actor, and politician, tells a transformative story in dance—and argues that the arts may be the most powerful way to effect change, whether political, social or personal.
The Art of Borobudur
The world's largest and 1200 years old Buddhist monument located near the city of Jogjakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia.
Alan de Botton on Success
A breezy talk in which Alain de Botton looks at our ideas of success and failure, the anxiety we feel over our careers, why it's harder now to feel calm than ever before. Is success always earned? Is failure?
Wade Davis on the Human Imagination
Wade Davis takes us on a tour through the wild ranges of the human imagination as manifested in the breadth of human mythology and cultural life.
Slaughter in America
A recent Humane Society sting operation at a California slaughterhouse brought to light some very cruel treatment of farm animals.
I'm Dalit, How Are You?
The Indian caste system has long violated some of the most basic tenets of human dignity, inflicting untold humiliation and injustice on too many for too long. Watch this video on the plight of Dalits (‘the oppressed’)—formerly ‘untouchables’—numbering one out of six Indians.
A Folk Singer from Himachal
He sings in a language called Pahari in the highlands of Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh, India.
Intelligent comedy is so rarely found. I consider it a gift when I run across something that moves me and makes me laugh and think...
Kumbh Mela, India
The greatest of the Hindu pilgrimage festivals, the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad is a riverside religious fair held every 12 years at the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna.
On China's Confucian Revival
An interview with Daniel A Bell, author of China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society
LGBT Pride Parade, 2008
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Celebration & Parade in San Francisco, 2008
Halloween in the Castro
Here is some anthropologically curious footage I shot in the Castro district of San Francisco on Halloween night, years before the famous event was forced to downsize due to a violent incident in 2006...
The Romance of the Nation-State
A thought-provoking and often amusing lecture by Ashis Nandy, prominent Indian political psychologist and social philosopher.
The Oldest Conflict of All
A debate between Professor Mansfield, author of the recent controversial study, Manliness, and Professor Kipnis, author of a similarly controversial new book, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability.