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Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance writer in Nashua, New Hampshire. Her writing has appeared in publications including Salon, Aeon Magazine and the Good Men Project. Contact her on Twitter @liviagershon.

A rice farmer with a handcart in Pingtung County, Taiwan, circa 1965.

Reclaiming Rice in Taiwan

After World War 2, the US ramped up international food aid, both as a Cold War strategy and as a way to distribute surplus products.
A Cheshire cat stuffed toy, from the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

A Brief History of Literary Cats

There’s nothing like curling up with a good book and a soft cat. Even better is a book with a cat in it.
Two devadesis in Chennai, India, in the 1920s.

How South Asian Temple Dancers Fought Moral Reform

Devadāsīs appealed to a longstanding tradition to argue that they had a legitimate position in their modernizing nation.
Carl Sagan holding a globe model of the planet Mars, 1970s.

Should We Go to Mars? Carl Sagan Had Thoughts

It'd be "a step more significant than the colonization of land by our amphibian ancestors some 500 million years ago." But Sagan had reservations.
An illustration of a dating app with Victorian women's photographs

The “Dating Apps” of Victorian England

They didn't have smartphones back then, but they still had personal ads.
Andrew Carnegie (left) and Melvil Dewey (right)

When Melvil Dewey Pursued Andrew Carnegie’s Millions

A clash of library enthusiasts ended with a sexual harassment scandal.
A Man And Woman Showing Ink-Marked Finger And Voter Card in Calcutta, India

Why Vote? Lessons from Indian Villages

The voters one scholar studied didn't necessarily think they would benefit materially from being on the winning side. But turnout was over 90 percent.
Tobacco sharecropper's wife cleaning up table after washing breakfast dishes. Person County, North Carolina, 1939, by Dorothea Lange

How the New Deal Documented Southern Food Cultures

Photographers and writers hired by the US government presented the foodways of the South to a wide audience.
The Illustrated Police News, November 17, 1888

How Crime Stories Foiled Reform in Victorian Britain

Harsh punishments were declining in the nineteenth century. Then came sensationalist news coverage of a reputed crime wave.
A demon beneath the foot of St. Michael

Where Demons Come From

They're Satan's minions, no?
Ancient human footprints found at White Sands National Park in New Mexico

Why Academic-Indigenous Collaboration Is Tricky

Although many archaeologists are trained to prize objectivity, Indigenous scholars approach research with a different sort of grounding.
Walmart employee Clara Martinez stocks the shelves at a Walmart store on February 19, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

How Retail Sales Became “Unskilled” Work

There's a big difference between how salespeople in traditional department stores and big-box retailers interact with their customers.

How Show Business Went Union

Since the nineteenth century, the IATSE union has organized behind-the-scenes workers, first in theater, then in the movies.
Albert Raboteau

Albert Raboteau on Re-Enchanting the World

The late religion scholar suggested that to regain a sense of wonder, we should look to education.
Thoreau as a Young Man

Did Thoreau Do Yoga?

The transcendentalist was big on Asian texts—at least as he understood them.
Parker Pillsbury

Parker Pillsbury, Nineteenth-Century Male Feminist

Abolitionists like the New Hampshire native believed that masculinity required self-control, setting them against violent enslavers.
From Home Suggestions, 1921

How American Consumers Embraced Color

Vivid hues in everyday products became eye-popping reality in the early twentieth century.
Governor William Burnet of New York meets with the Iroquois in 1721

The Native American Roots of the U.S. Constitution

The Iroquois, Shawnee, Cherokee, and other political formations generally separated military and civil leadership and guarded certain personal freedoms.
A campaigner gives a leaflet to a woman at the Abortion Travel agency store on April 10, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.

Evading Abortion Bans with Mutual Aid

One scholar chronicles how communities have banded together to help each other with abortion care even when it’s against the law.
Man buying garters from a female shop assistant

Sex Panic at the Department Store

Were shopgirls selling more than scents at the perfume counter? Three investigators were determined to find out.
Mary McLeod Bethune with a Line of Girls from her School in Daytona Beach, Florida, 1905

How Black Americans Fought for Literacy

From the moment US Army troops arrived in the South, newly freed people sought ways to gain education—particularly to learn to read and write.
Illustration: Head of a man with a severe disease affecting his face by Christopher D' Alton, 1858

Source: https://www.jstor.org/stable/community.24834473

The Ugly History of Chicago’s “Ugly Law”

In the nineteenth century, laws in many parts of the country prohibited "undeserving" disabled people from appearing in public.
An illustration of strawberries

Strawberries and British Identity Forever

Even though they occupied much of South Asia, British civil servants and their wives wanted a taste of home. Strawberries, for instance.
Osiris flanked by Horus on the left and Isis on the right

A Holy Trinity in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Mediterranean was full of religious expression, and Kemetic culture's concept of a divine family influenced early Christians.
An illustration from a 17th century German theosophical text

The Changing Meaning of “Mysticism”

People who don't follow organized religion sometimes describe themselves as spiritual. But this idea isn't a recent invention.