Arts and Literature

Hometown D.C.: America’s Secret Music City

In his memoir Music Is My Mistress, Duke Ellington fondly recalled whiling away the days of his youth at Holliday’s poolroom in Washington, DC.

The Link Between Culture & Extremism: An Integrated Model to Combating Art Trafficking

Cultural cleansing is described as the deliberate destruction and eradication of any evidence of religious and historical presence of the original population in a war-torn region. Tasoula Hadjitofi argues that recent developments in the Middle East have shown, once again, that cultural cleansing can no longer be a secondary priority in areas of conflict but must be seen as a much more serious crime. Ms. Hadjitofi will draw on European history and examples from around the globe – including Greece, Italy, Guatemala, Mali, Canada, and others – to discuss this phenomenon.

Discovering the Power of Community in Unexpected Places

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about supporting “community” as a way to address pressing urban challenges, such as rising crime, entrenched poverty, and substandard education systems.  The concept of “community” – especially those deemed to be “sustainable” and “resilient” – has come to be a currency of the realm in discussions about cities, development, and rebounding from disaster. Any understanding of “community” loses texture and vitality as it becomes a term of art spoken too often in policy debates without much thought. 

Sarajevo Roses, Tahrir Protests & Djerbahood: Injustice, Youth & Resilience

Within the past quarter century, two tectonic shifts have shaken international affairs: the end of the Cold War in 1991 and the uprisings across the Arab world in 2011. These groundbreaking changes were accompanied by violence and conflict, exemplified by the wars in the former Yugoslavia and state repression across several Arab countries. Dealing with post-conflict and post-authoritarian injustice in these contexts poses a number of challenges.

Just the Facts: What is “Fact Checking” and Why is it Growing?

Journalism, at its best, is a search for truth. And identifying the truth involves getting the facts correct. But a movement known as “Fact Checking” is growing globally and takes what some consider standard journalism practice to new heights. Following the release of a new report on fact checking, we spoke with Jane Elizabeth from the American Press Institute about the findings and to learn more about the practice. She provides an overview in this edition of CONTEXT

A Retrospective: Gender and Politics in the Work of Shirin Neshat

Three authors and specialists on Iran discussed the achievements of artist Shirin Neshat and the political and social themes in her work.

Misty Copeland to Dance Swan Lake at DC’s Kennedy Center

History will be made at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on the e

Book Talk: New Translation "Anna Karenina"

This talk explored the translation history of Anna Karenina, and the particular role played by Constance Garnett and Louise and Aylmer Maude in establishing Tolstoy’s reputation in the English-speaking world. This led to a discussion of some of the novel’s less well-known, but surprisingly revealing aspects, as seen from the grass-roots level of a contemporary translator, and, through a comparison of the fictional Anna with her real-life British contemporary Louise Jopling, a reconsideration of the novel’s relationship to the “woman question” in late 19th-century Russia.

Porgy & Bess at 80: Rethinking Russian Influence on American Culture

East European musical and theatrical masters arriving in the United States beginning in the 1890s immediately recognized and praised the contributions of African Americans to American culture.  Beginning with Czech composer Antonín Dvořák – who argued during the 1890s that “Negro melodies” would create a distinctive “American school” of operas, symphonies, art songs, and chamber works – and continuing through the early twentieth century, European immigrant musicians and theatrical performers such as – Dvořák, George Balanchine, Jerome Kern, and Kurt Weill -- s

The View from the Bus: Rethinking Cities through Performance