As the latest long national nightmare slithers inexorably to its end, it is time to consider a few familiar stories that may provide much needed wisdom. Rumpelstiltskin, Samson, and a modern story.
This is Us. Urban density is our geopolitical destiny
In the days, weeks, and years ahead, we have much work to do. In our college, this work is particularly acute because geography is destiny, and our destiny is density. Red states and blue states? Fuggedaboutit! Elections in the United States are increasingly about our cities and the communities that enliven them.
The physics community needs to include, listen to and hire Black scientists
In the summer of 2012, as a rising senior physics major at the University of Minnesota, I participated in a 10-week NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Chicago. Every day I would fabricate thin films of quantum dots, and every night I would exercise by running to and from Lake Michigan … Continue reading »
On Un-Naming Barrows Hall
There are many complicated issues here about how to judge, remember, and commemorate the past, which are not easily resolved. But I hope we can agree that we should tell the truth about past. This should be our starting point for all consequential discussions, a point that has been under some stress lately.
Alfred Kroeber and his Relations with California Indians
The Berkeley faculty has been invited to respond to the proposal to re-name Kroeber the Hall. We have had little time to reflect on this. The re-naming report was prepared hastily and secretly. I was told that it was a ‘classified’ and ‘highly confidential’ report that was not to be copied or distributed. Thus, the … Continue reading »
A Tale of Two Dropouts: Arts, Humanities, and Education for the Future
No one at Berkeley would ever encourage a student to drop out of the university. But you can learn a lot from studying what college dropouts do with their lives. Recently, I have been thinking about two famous dropouts who have been in the news. Observers of the political situation and the state of public … Continue reading »
Lessons from the history of anthropology
I am trained as an anthropologist and believe deeply in the future of my discipline. But if we are going to be able to move forward into the future I want to see happen– a future being shaped by my students, who come from much more diverse communities than ever before — we have to … Continue reading »
On the Renaming of Anthropology’s Kroeber Hall
I was deeply distressed to learn about an administrative plan to remove the name of AL Kroeber from Kroeber Hall. The decision was not discussed with the anthropology faculty. Moreover, the ‘statement’ on Alfred Kroeber was woefully misinformed and in the pop style of social media “cancel culture”, based on shaming and removing public figures … Continue reading »
An open letter to my neighbor who accused me of stealing
Recently while shopping in my San Francisco neighborhood, I was racially profiled and accused of stealing by another customer. This was not the first time I was racially profiled in a city known for its progressivism. This open letter is an invitation to all, and particularly those who count themselves among the “woke,” to dig … Continue reading »
Brushes with racism in Minnesota and why Black lives matter
Black lives matter across any geographical border. My research and my own racial encounters confirm what I have known in my soul: our fates are inextricably linked. And they depend upon the recognition of Black humanity and dignity.
Cuba HIV/AIDS: Epidemics and Containment
The principle upon which the fight against disease should be based is on the creation of a robust body; But not the robust body created by the artistic work of a doctor upon a singular weak organism; rather the creation of a robust body by the work of the entire social collective upon the entire … Continue reading »
How to Globalize Clean Energy
This blog was co-authored with Cecilia Han Springer, who is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Abstract Renewable energy is an essential component of our defense against emergent climate risk. While renewable generation and distribution technologies hold enormous promise now and are enjoying rapid innovation, … Continue reading »
On Juneteenth, our fight for full freedom requires that we persist
What we are witnessing today is encouraging for many reasons, among them the fact that we’re seeing a new generation of Americans from all races and backgrounds standing with us to demand our freedom.
All lives can’t matter until black lives matter too
All lives matter ignores history and resists efforts to improve the lives of black people specifically, who have been struggling for 400 years under the weight of anti-black racism to belong in this country and to have our humanity seen.
We need to move from ritualized responses to reparation
Shifts in the social terrain, if navigated skillfully and boldly, could serve as the catalyst we need to finally embark on the long journey towards a reckoning that has been over 400 years in the making.
We’re in a moment of collective trauma. But there are glimmers of hope
We need to remember that policing is but a single component of the larger system of oppression so acutely felt in the Black community.
Social science is filling a vacuum in the political response to COVID-19
Coronavirus 2020 will go down as the social science epidemic of the modern age. The deluge of data and analysis is so great that its sheer quantity has created a qualitative shift in how most of us—those not directly engaged with the sick and dying—think about this crisis.
We’ll be carried forward upon the whispers of our elders
“Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today To get through this thing called life” ~Prince One evening in early March, before we were all sent home to shelter, I got a call from my mother. She told me that her cousin and her cousin’s husband had been rushed to the hospital. Both were diagnosed … Continue reading »
Reflecting on a pandemic and its aftermath, in fiction and reality
Addendum as Prologue: 22 April 2020, Earth Day I wrote the essay that follows a decade ago, in 2010, the year the novel The Great Bay by Dale Pendell (1947-2018) was published. I also nominated the book for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. It didn’t win one, nor has it yet received the kind of … Continue reading »
Don’t let physical isolation become emotional isolation
We hope you are staying healthy and safe during this period of uncertainty as governments around the world take dramatic and unprecedented measures to try to contain the pandemic currently disrupting life on our planet. As has been pointed out in many commentaries on the current situation, the pandemic exposes the inadequacies of our health … Continue reading »