U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) meet in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017.

Can the U.S. and China Avoid the Thucydides Trap?

The "Thucydides trap" refers to the theory that when a rising power threatens a ruling power, the result is often war. Are the U.S. and China headed there?
Digital illustration of connected cities

Do Sister Cities Matter?

Sister cities may seem like mere symbolic pairings, but many actually share meaningful ties that are deliberately instituted and sustained.
Otto Marseus van Schrieck - Stilleben mit Insekten und Amphibien, 1662

A Recipe for Flies and Frogs

And other wonders of spontaneous generation.
U.S. World War II anti-venereal disease poster

When America Incarcerated “Promiscuous” Women

From WWI to the 1950s, the "American Plan" rounded up sexually-active women and quarantined them, supposedly to protect soldiers from venereal disease.
guy fawkes mask

The Gunpowder Plot, Redux

The cultural meaning of Guy Fawkes’ conspiracy to blow up the House of Lords has shifted, from countercultural symbol to HBO drama.
Close up of an eye

Finding a Murderer in a Victim’s Eye

In late 19th-century forensics, optography was all the rage. This pseudoscience held that what someone saw just before death would be imprinted on their eye.
Chestnuts

When Chestnuts Were an Everyday Food

Even if you haven't actually roasted chestnuts on an open fire, you probably associate them with winter. But once they were a common year-round food.
The Hobet mine in West Virginia taken by NASA LANDSAT in 2009

When Mining Destroys Historical Cemeteries

Mountain top removal mining brings with it total ecosystem destruction. It also erases history by destroying historic mountain cemeteries.

Better Living Through Nudity

In England in the 1920s and ‘30s, nudism was ideological and utopian. Then the Nazis coopted the concept for their eugenicist Nacktkultur movement.

Do We Have to Tell Them the House Is Haunted?

On the law and mythologies of haunting, from antiquity to today.