• Essay

    When Is It Right (or Wrong) to Rebel?

    Considering Syria Through the Writings of Thomas Hobbes Shows the Promise and Perils of Revolution

    By Christopher J. Finlay

    When protesters confronted the autocrats of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria early in 2011, many liberally minded people around the world hailed this ...

  • The Takeaway

    Why Termites Are Giving Humans a Lot to Chew On

    The Industrious "Underbug" Isn't Just Chomping Our Houses. It's Furnishing Clues About the Future of Technology, Energy, and Warfare.

    By Reed Johnson

    Apart from mosquitoes and cockroaches, termites may be the least beloved insects rambling around our planet. But they’re also among the most ...

  • Poetry

    By Cynthia Atkins

    O sister on the other side
    of the mirror, all sass and vinegar.  
    Galaxy of lace and petticoats 
    and pretty things swept under 
    the radar.  You are a vintage ...

New at Zócalo

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AMERICAN

How Midwestern Suffragists Used Anti-Immigrant Fervor to Help Gain the Vote

Women Fighting for the Ballot Saw German Men as Backward, Ignorant, and Less Worthy of Citizenship Than Themselves

By Sara Egge

    In September 1914, the nationally renowned suffragist Anna Howard Shaw spoke to a large crowd at a Congregational Church in Yankton County, South Dakota. Shaw, a slight but charismatic 67-year-old, was a masterful speaker who could be both reserved and lively. She was there to support an amendment on the ballot that would give women in the state the right to vote. It was neither her first visit to South Dakota nor even to Yankton County; during South Dakota’s 1890 suffrage campaign—its first of seven—Shaw had given a forceful lecture at an annual fundraising bazaar for the Methodist Church’s Ladies’ Aid Society. Nearly 25 years had passed, but Shaw’s resolve had not wavered, and she remained a spellbinding orator. The editor of the Dakota Herald, one of Yankton County’s local newspapers, called her “brilliant,” “delightful,” and ...

Essay

Hurricane Maria 'Lifted the Veil' on Puerto Rico's Broken System

The Island Must Confront Past Mismanagement, or Face Outsize Future Disasters

By Fernando Rivera

    On September 20, 2017, when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the media, government officials, and the American public were in awe when the island lost electricity and went dark. More recently it’s been estimated that thousands may have died in the storm and its aftermath. How, in a place that is part of the United States, had this happened?
    As a sociologist who studies disasters, I wasn’t surprised. I study the role that communities play in avoiding, preparing, responding to, and recovering from disasters. This view holds that while natural hazards are common, they become disasters due to the social conditions in which they happen.
    So if a hurricane strikes a deserted island in the middle of the ocean, that’s not considered a disaster. But when a hurricane hits an island that has been in crisis for many years, as was the case in Puerto Rico, the disaster can be very large.
    Hurricane Maria lifted the veil on ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

Poetry

  • By Magda Kapa

    How does the night move?
    There must be a moment
    when it moves over your body.
    You are half night, ...

  • By Caitlin Mohney

    1.

    from here the earth
    is a shade of the darkest
    blue before black ...

  • Video Highlights

    Looking Back at Four Years of “What It Means to Be American”

    The Smithsonian/ASU/Zócalo Project on U.S. History and Identity Is Just Getting Started

    Since its launch on April 14, 2014, the "What It Means to Be American" project has convened 12 events in seven cities and published more than 300 essays on American history and identity. And we're just getting started. Here's a look back at where we've been, and where we're going.