By Steve Zeitlin, author of The Poetry of Everyday Life
“There are nine different words for the color blue in the Spanish Maya dictionary,” writes Earl Shorris, “but just three Spanish translations, leaving six [blue] butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving that when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth.”
Over 6,500 languages—with at least that many words for butterflies—are spoken in our fragile world. By the end of the century more than half will disappear. Our languages are melting like the icecaps. Continue reading “Treasure Language”
David Bacon, author of Communities without Borders, published a photoessay on Truthout about homeless would-be voters in Berkeley, California: “We’re Homeless and We Vote”: Homeless People Want a Voice in This Election”
A Q & A with Robert J. Sternberg was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education (paywalled) on September 15. Dan Berrett of the Chronicle writes of Sternberg, “Over an extensive career, he has challenged orthodoxies on admissions, standardized testing, and academic culture. . . . In his new book, What Universities Can Be: A New Model for Preparing Students for Active Concerned Citizenship and Ethical Leadership, Sternberg synthesizes his research and evolving thinking on intelligence, creativity, common sense, wisdom, and leadership. . . . He proposes a new model that prepares students for what he calls ‘active concerned citizenship and ethical leadership,’ or ‘Accel.’ That means emphasizing access over exclusivity, he says, and cultivating broad abilities, like creativity, wisdom, and practical thinking, instead of narrow ones like memory.”
A few short excerpts of the interview follow: Continue reading “Robert J. Sternberg on How to Produce Students Who Can Change the World”
Congratulations to Marina Rustow, author of Heresy and the Politics of Community: The Jews of the Fatimid Caliphate, who has been named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow on the basis of her work with the Cairo Geniza texts. From the MacArthur Foundation’s description of Rustow’s work:
“In Heresy and the Politics of Community: The Jews of the Fatimid Caliphate (2008), Rustow focuses on the period from 909 to 1171 C.E. and upends long-accepted ideas about the relationship between two rival Jewish communities under Fatimid rule. Prior historians, basing their interpretation on literary polemics, had depicted the Rabbanites and Karaites (or Qaraites) of Egypt and Syria as factions bitterly divided by theological difference, the latter branded as heretics and marginalized. Rustow examined nonliterary Geniza documents (such as letters, legal contracts, and state petitions and decrees) and revealed a wealth of social, economic, and political transactions between the two groups. The finding calls into question the depth of the religious schism, suggesting a higher level of tolerance and cooperation than had been assumed.”
The August 18 edition of the Wall Street Journal features a commentary on Putin’s Russia by Michael Khodarkovsky, author most recently of Bitter Choices: Loyalty and Betrayal in the Russian Conquest of the North Caucasus:
Putin Creates a Fantasyland
The latest episode of Ben Franklin’s World, a podcast about early American history, features an interview with Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon, author of For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789. Listen here!
In the Cornell Chronicle, Kathryn S. March, whose book “If Each Comes Halfway”: Meeting Tamang Women in Nepal features a CD of traditional songs recorded nowhere else, wrote this heartrending account of the fate of the village where she and David Holmberg, author of Order in Paradox: Myth and Ritual Among Nepal’s Tamang, have done fieldwork for decades: Cornell Perspectives: My village in Nepal is gone.
Other books Cornell University Press has published on Nepal include In the Circle of the Dance: Notes of an Outsider in Nepal by Katharine Bjork Guneratne and Many Tongues, One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal by Arjun Guneratne.