The New York Times has launched a major project that attempts to rewrite the genealogy of American institutions from the founding of slavery. The 1619 Project marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of slavery in America. Its wide-ranging essays show the effect of slavery on present-day phenomena in American life, from the form of the security-backed mortgage to the absence of universal health care. An interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones, the project lead, gives an overview of the project’s aims.
Another anniversary: the modernist Bauhaus experiment of Isokon turns 85. If forgotten today, the event is important in the history of urban planning and architecture, as “it was not only the first residential building to be erected with reinforced concrete,” but “it also revolutionized European standards of building public housing and introduced modernity into Great Britain in 1934.” Average rent today in London: above £1200.
In a Scientific American blog post, John Horgan reflects on Amia Srinivasan’s concept of “genealogical anxiety.” This anxiety rejects “extreme skepticism, [that is,] the claim that all beliefs are equally invalid,” and instead “suggests that we ask of our beliefs not, Are they true? but What do they do? That is, how do they affect our lives?” (Srinivasan’s essay was one of the readings for this summer’s Genealogies of Modernity Graduate Seminar!)
Another seminar selection, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, is given a précis over at the Patheos blog. Modernity is here marked by a change in the “conditions of belief.”
In a review of American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity, Justin Whitaker reflects on the work’s marking of a passage from modernity to postmodernity in “the shifting Buddhist landscape as it moves away from the hippie, free-love experimentation of the Boomer generation toward a series of new challenges around diversity, power, transparency, and the growing difficulty of making a living as a Buddhist teacher.”
“Sanctuary cities” have a deep genealogy. The arei miklat or Cities of Refuge named in the Book of Numbers offer a model for the modern phenomenon in a reflection from The Jewish News of North Carolina.
Antibiotic resistance, seemingly a modern phenomena par excellence, comes in for a “deep microorganism genealogy.”
For your ears: The Telegraph reports that “James MacMillan, Scotland’s most famous living composer, is about to make musical history. He has written an entire piece inspired by the Holy Spirit, the first person ever to do so.” Well, maybe not. MacMillan admits later in the article that “Mahler praises the Third Person in the tremendous last movement of his Symphony No 8.” No full recording yet, but here’s a brief interview with Macmillan.