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Africa: ‘The Dark Continent’? On the inheritance of knowledge

“The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand in one place”

Chinua Achebe

“Do they know it’s Christmas?” Well of course they bloody do. They’ll probably go to Church, and then spend the day with their families.  I find the return of Geldof’s fundraising wonder song deeply problematic. His efforts in fighting the Ebola crisis are laudable, but the lyrics of the song betray the startling grip of an inherited image of Africa. Academia has a great deal to answer for.

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Poppies
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The poppy is about giving thanks, not fostering division

The Feast of All Souls and Remembrance Sunday at the beginning of November always mark a period of time when we are reminded of our departed loved ones and those who have fallen whilst serving their country. Remembrance Sunday is the day traditionally set aside to remember all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. On this day people across the nation pause to reflect on the sacrifices made by our brave service men and women. However, I often feel that the importance of remembrance is belittled by many people today, and indeed, by many at Oxford.

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Politicians and Popular Culture- PR stunt?

‘Michael Gove is widely seen as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals in British political life.’ Excuse me, The Guardian, that was not expected, I thought I was safe. Yet, this sentence was designed to contrast with the video on which the article was based, which depicted Gove describing his favourite ‘Game of Thrones’ character. A publicity stunt after having been demoted to chief whip? Or is he trying to seem more ‘normal’? Either way, this video again reveals a growing trend in politics, the referencing of popular culture. (more…)

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Nigel the Builder hasn’t got a hope of fixing it.

Last week it was announced that Bob the Builder would be returning to television, revamped for the modern age. You may have seen the pictures floating around social media; the new, CGI-ified Bob staring out at the viewer with cold, dead eyes and a nightmarish grin, surrounded by his entourage of beaming, anthropomorphised goons, usually captioned with words to the effects of “What have you done?”, or “childhood ruined!”.  (more…)

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Gowns, grades and getting in to Oxford

There’s a lot of talk about the need to change Oxford stereotypes. It’s now the university’s mission to prove to all those teachers and future applicants that prancing around in gowns and attending graduation services in Latin doesn’t mean that you’re rich – or, for that matter, that you come from a private school. (more…)

ISIL Response
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There are no easy answers to Isis

Due to technical errors, the publication of this article was delayed by two weeks.

 

Faced with grizzly videos of beheadings and massacres, the demand that something must be done about the so-called Islamic State (Isis) is a natural reaction.  Moreover, given the hundreds of billions of dollars the west spends on defence, it seems reasonable to think that doing something should be possible.  After all, what’s the point of all our expensive weaponry (The F-22 Raptor, on its first combat missions in Iraq, costs the US $150mn apiece) if we can’t achieve something with it?  It is a mistake to think this is the case: western intervention carries no guarantees of defeating Isis in any meaningful sense, while bearing a significant risk of worsening the situation.

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The Oxford Student

Oxford's Newspaper since 1991