Zócalo Public SquareGlimpses – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:01:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Capturing the Architecture of American Agriculture—and a Passing Way of Lifehttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/08/24/capturing-architecture-american-agriculture-passing-way-life/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/08/24/capturing-architecture-american-agriculture-passing-way-life/viewings/glimpses/#comments Thu, 24 Aug 2017 07:01:52 +0000 By David Hanks http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=87637 “Why would anyone want to take pictures of a place like this?”

That’s the question I often get when I enter the office of a feed mill or grain elevator, asking permission to make photographs on the property or inside the buildings.

Showing other photos that I’ve taken usually satisfies the operator that I’m not working for the local tax assessor or real estate agent, and I receive permission to proceed.

But it’s a good question: Why do I keep up with this activity? What is the motivation? There is no coherent explanation except to say that it is something I feel must be done.

For more than 45 years, I’ve been taking pictures of feed mills and grain elevators in the towns of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Here, the mills—plants that turn grain and other materials into food for farm animals—were once common enough to be taken for granted, even

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What It Means to Be American “Why would anyone want to take pictures of a place like this?”

That’s the question I often get when I enter the office of a feed mill or grain elevator, asking permission to make photographs on the property or inside the buildings.

Showing other photos that I’ve taken usually satisfies the operator that I’m not working for the local tax assessor or real estate agent, and I receive permission to proceed.

But it’s a good question: Why do I keep up with this activity? What is the motivation? There is no coherent explanation except to say that it is something I feel must be done.

For more than 45 years, I’ve been taking pictures of feed mills and grain elevators in the towns of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Here, the mills—plants that turn grain and other materials into food for farm animals—were once common enough to be taken for granted, even as they often provided a town landmark.

Now, changes in the scale and economics of the agricultural industry have made smaller mills and elevators redundant or inefficient. Some small town mills are still in operation—they might hang on by doing custom grinding (special mixes that depart from the standard recipe to treat particular conditions in animals), or selling lawn and garden products, or mixing for horses and other pets. One I visited even serves ostriches and llamas. But many smaller facilities have been replaced or engulfed by larger ones. Some have been torn down. Some have fallen into disrepair. A portion of history is slipping away.

My documentation of this history began as a passing interest. I worked—I’m now retired—as an industrial photographer, filmmaker, and later, video producer. I have no personal connections to farming or milling. But I like to get outside, and I take pictures of everything that catches my eye. One day in the late 1960s I photographed a beautiful porcelain door knob on a dilapidated building. Later, I saw a similar building while out riding my bike, and I asked someone if she knew what it was. “Oh, that’s the old feed mill,” she told me, and added that it had closed a couple of years before. It was scheduled for demolition. “They’re going to put some stores on the lot.” 

A few days later I drove back with camera gear.

I went to the library. I researched. I became a regular reader of Michigan Farmer magazine and the trade journals like the Milling Journal. I learned that 19th-century feed mills were almost always located alongside a railroad track, usually about seven or eight miles apart—about as far as a farmer would want to drive a team of horses on a hot summer day. My collection of pictures grew. I used photos on Google maps to follow train tracks to a likely mill. Often, I’d be directed to my next location by a conversation with a worker at the previous: “Have you photographed the mill in Jamestown? It’s back off the road on 180th Street … Better hurry though, they’re going to get rid of it pretty soon.”

I now have thousands of images of feed mills and grain elevators. I came to know the workers at various places. The owner-operator of a mill in Carson City still remembers when, just a boy, he left a tank of slow-moving molasses unattended, and it overflowed to coat everything—floors, machinery, stored feed. (He had to clean up the mess.) I’ve been told many tales, many as humorous as this one, but also some that bordered on the tragic. These include workers’ anxiety about a passing way of life, their resignation at changes, and their grief over accidents in mills and elevators—which are still more common than they should be.

My photographer’s eye remains fascinated by the variety of the structures. They’re true examples of vernacular architecture. As they age and undergo repairs, they often acquire a mix of building materials. One section might include wood shiplap siding, wood clapboard siding, metal siding and a metal roof, corrugated steel, brick, tar paper, and even a car license plate used to patch a hole.

What they don’t include is ornament or decoration. Except for the Christmas Stars. They are made on a framework of metal pipe with lightbulbs attached, mounted at the top of the tallest elevator. The lights are lit eight days before Christmas and are left on until New Year’s Eve. (I have asked a number of times about the reason for the eight days, and the only answer I’ve gotten is “custom.”) When I’m driving on an interstate in December, look out over the snow-covered farm fields, and see one of those stars glowing in the dark, I know that I am in the right place for me.

I’ve photographed mills in every season, even in the rain and snow. I focus most on light. At times, I prefer the low raking angle of a winter sun, which accentuates the deeply engraved textures of an old building. At times, I prefer to photograph when clouds veil the sun to produce a misty cloak over a sharply detailed structure. I capture the pattern of dappled sunlight coming through tree leaves, or I open a door to let bright outdoor light spill across the floor inside.

One of my influences is the French photographer Eugène Atget, who took pictures of Paris and its environs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, concentrating on old and medieval parts of the city. He eked out a precarious living by selling prints to artist supply shops (who resold them to painters as references for quaint old scenes). Atget “viewed the whole world as a finished work of art,” said Berenice Abbott, the American artist who saved his negatives and helped his work achieve recognition, “and photography was just the act of pointing.”

So many old mills have been waiting a long time for me to appreciate them. For my part, I’m only pointing.

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In an Ancient Indonesian City, Art Is Abundant–and Inclusivehttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/06/22/ancient-indonesian-city-art-abundant-inclusive/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/06/22/ancient-indonesian-city-art-abundant-inclusive/viewings/glimpses/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:01:10 +0000 By Budi N.D. Dharmawan http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=86257 The city of Yogyakarta, which sits between the Indian Ocean and the volcanic mountain Merapi at the heart of Java island, has long been known as one of the arts and culture capitals of Indonesia. It is the capital of the ancient Javanese kingdom of Yogyakarta, a descendant of the Islamic Mataram Kingdom.

Since the 1990s, especially after the fall of President Suharto in 1998, Yogyakarta has also become known as a center of Indonesian contemporary arts, along with Bandung. There are now more than 50 active art spaces and institutions, mostly privately owned and run by artists themselves. These spaces routinely organize exhibitions, performances, talks, residencies, and other events.

This makes living in Yogyakarta tough, because there are so many exhibits and events to go to. The period requiring the greatest endurance for art audiences is Jogja Art Weeks, in May through June, when there are more than 100

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The city of Yogyakarta, which sits between the Indian Ocean and the volcanic mountain Merapi at the heart of Java island, has long been known as one of the arts and culture capitals of Indonesia. It is the capital of the ancient Javanese kingdom of Yogyakarta, a descendant of the Islamic Mataram Kingdom.

Since the 1990s, especially after the fall of President Suharto in 1998, Yogyakarta has also become known as a center of Indonesian contemporary arts, along with Bandung. There are now more than 50 active art spaces and institutions, mostly privately owned and run by artists themselves. These spaces routinely organize exhibitions, performances, talks, residencies, and other events.

This makes living in Yogyakarta tough, because there are so many exhibits and events to go to. The period requiring the greatest endurance for art audiences is Jogja Art Weeks, in May through June, when there are more than 100 events around the city—there can be as many as 10 events in a day during the first week.

Yogyakarta’s art scene is inclusive in ways that elude other cities. Most creative events here are free of charge, but even the paid events are not as expensive as in the capital city Jakarta. Artists sell their work with price tags only rich collectors can afford, but they also make merchandise so common people can buy their art, too.

The period requiring the greatest endurance for art audiences is Jogja Art Weeks, in May through June, when there are more than 100 events around the city—there can be as many as 10 events in a day during the first week.

The scene itself values mixing, which has allowed creative sectors to bloom all around the city. Younger artists have open conversations with older artists. Artists of the so-called “southern art district” hang out with students and academics of the so-called “northern academic area.”

Jogja Art Weeks was initiated in 2015 by the contemporary art fair ARTJOG. Started in 2008, ARTJOG attracted artists and art practitioners from other cities and abroad, and that encouraged other groups to hold their own events during the month-long art fair, so ARTJOG’s guests would also visit their events. It did not go well at first, as each space was concerned only its own events. Jogja Art Weeks is a solution that encourages everyone to share guests via a joint publication.

The idea of embracing each other to strengthen the city’s branding as a creative hotspot is also evident in the recently formed Jogja Festivals consortium, which consists of 15 arts, cultural, and creative events, among hundreds of festivals held in Yogyakarta including fine art, performing arts, film, and music. Though the festivals work hand in hand with the municipal government, the consortium as well as the festivals involved are mostly initiated by artists or practitioners. The local government sometimes gives financial support to arts and creative events, but there is no real cooperation between the government and the arts community, because arts and culture in general are not yet seen as strategic for the growth and development of the city.

In Indonesia the government regards traditional arts and culture as national treasures. Contemporary arts and creative sectors, by contrast, are seen in an economic light—as a potential source of well-paying jobs without the environmental costs of industry. Under President Joko Widodo’s administration, there is now a ministerial level body dedicated to the creative economy, Badan Ekonomi Kreatif (BEKRAF). The government has recruited professional practitioners as its head and deputies, but because it was conceived by the Ministry of Tourism, BEKRAF still has a problematic position because it sees the arts and creative economy mainly as tangible products to promote tourism.

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VIDEO: Are You an Optimist?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/are-you-an-optimist/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/are-you-an-optimist/viewings/glimpses/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:55 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81488

It’s harder to be an optimist when times are uncertain than when they are relatively sunny. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, professor emeritus at McGill University, explains the sources of his optimism.

Since the 1960s Taylor has written about the humanities, sociology, political science, and the history of philosophy. Through his writing (16 books plus contributions to many others), teaching, and collaborations, Taylor has plumbed the mysteries of how we understand ourselves as well as how we may come to understand others who hold markedly different beliefs and values. In addition to his academic work, he has been involved in politics in Canada and has worked (via public dialogue) on the tricky issues of multiculturalism and cultural identity.

Taylor himself has also given his readers reason to be optimistic, as in this essay by James K.A. Smith about why his millennial students at a small Christian college love reading Taylor’s A

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It’s harder to be an optimist when times are uncertain than when they are relatively sunny. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, professor emeritus at McGill University, explains the sources of his optimism.

Since the 1960s Taylor has written about the humanities, sociology, political science, and the history of philosophy. Through his writing (16 books plus contributions to many others), teaching, and collaborations, Taylor has plumbed the mysteries of how we understand ourselves as well as how we may come to understand others who hold markedly different beliefs and values. In addition to his academic work, he has been involved in politics in Canada and has worked (via public dialogue) on the tricky issues of multiculturalism and cultural identity.

Taylor himself has also given his readers reason to be optimistic, as in this essay by James K.A. Smith about why his millennial students at a small Christian college love reading Taylor’s A Secular Age. “So this big philosophical tome ends up doing what David Foster Wallace used to say a good novel is supposed to do: give us a sense that we aren’t alone.”

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VIDEO: Where Is Multiculturalism Working?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/where-is-multiculturalism-working/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/where-is-multiculturalism-working/viewings/glimpses/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:52 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81522

Multiculturalism has become a loaded word, with cities like Paris and Brussels becoming emblematic of the failure of the ideal of different cultures and religions living together. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor started working on the issues of diversity and multiculturalism in the 1980s and published an influential essay called “The Politics of Recognition” in 1992, which said that recognition is a “vital human need.” In 2007, when a controversy arose in his home province of Quebec over whether or not to accommodate immigrants from different religions and cultures, Taylor became a co-chair of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, which held meetings throughout the province and released the Bouchard-Taylor report in 2008 that recommended a set of guidelines for showing “openness and generosity of spirit” for minorities.

We asked Taylor which city in the world demonstrates that multiculturalism is working.

Indian political scientist Rajeev Bhargava and

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Multiculturalism has become a loaded word, with cities like Paris and Brussels becoming emblematic of the failure of the ideal of different cultures and religions living together. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor started working on the issues of diversity and multiculturalism in the 1980s and published an influential essay called “The Politics of Recognition” in 1992, which said that recognition is a “vital human need.” In 2007, when a controversy arose in his home province of Quebec over whether or not to accommodate immigrants from different religions and cultures, Taylor became a co-chair of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, which held meetings throughout the province and released the Bouchard-Taylor report in 2008 that recommended a set of guidelines for showing “openness and generosity of spirit” for minorities.

We asked Taylor which city in the world demonstrates that multiculturalism is working.

Indian political scientist Rajeev Bhargava and Taylor have spent decades exchanging ideas about many subjects, including diversity in their nations. In this essay, Bhargava tells the story of his 40-year friendship and intellectual collaboration with Taylor.

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VIDEO: Do Philosophers Have an Obligation to the World?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/philosophers-obligation-world/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/philosophers-obligation-world/viewings/glimpses/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:34 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81513

Philosophy has a reputation for being abstract and analytical, somewhat apart from the world. So we asked Charles Taylor if philosophers have an obligation to the world we live in. After this segment he continued talking about the idea of how our modern selves cope with change and can adapt to new and previously unthinkable concepts. “In the world we’re living in you re-gestalt the way you see things and become a different person,” he said. “It can be done.”

Taylor’s most recent book is The Language Animal, which revisits an old argument between continental and analytical philosophers about the function of language. UCLA historian Anthony Pagden writes in this essay about how The Language Animal addresses the ongoing conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, offering hope that there is a language-driven process for resolving some of our most intractable modern tensions.

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Philosophy has a reputation for being abstract and analytical, somewhat apart from the world. So we asked Charles Taylor if philosophers have an obligation to the world we live in. After this segment he continued talking about the idea of how our modern selves cope with change and can adapt to new and previously unthinkable concepts. “In the world we’re living in you re-gestalt the way you see things and become a different person,” he said. “It can be done.”

Taylor’s most recent book is The Language Animal, which revisits an old argument between continental and analytical philosophers about the function of language. UCLA historian Anthony Pagden writes in this essay about how The Language Animal addresses the ongoing conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, offering hope that there is a language-driven process for resolving some of our most intractable modern tensions.

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VIDEO: Why Should Philosophers Go Into Politics?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/philosophers-go-politics/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/philosophers-go-politics/viewings/glimpses/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:23 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81508

Philosopher Charles Taylor has had a life in politics as well as academia. During the 1950s, when he was studying philosophy at Oxford, he wrote and edited Universities and Left Review, which later became New Left Review, a political and intellectual journal. When he returned to Canada in the early 1960s, while teaching political science, he ran for Parliament unsuccessfully three times, including against future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. But he stayed involved in political conversation, and in 2007 co-chaired Quebec’s Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences. In that capacity, he studied and made recommendations on cultural integration, collective identity, church-state relations, and how to handle cultural and religious harmonization requests.

Taylor taught Canadians to talk to each other via theory and example, explains Taylor’s long-time colleague, political scientist James Tully, in this essay. In doing so, he also helped the nation move toward embracing

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Philosopher Charles Taylor has had a life in politics as well as academia. During the 1950s, when he was studying philosophy at Oxford, he wrote and edited Universities and Left Review, which later became New Left Review, a political and intellectual journal. When he returned to Canada in the early 1960s, while teaching political science, he ran for Parliament unsuccessfully three times, including against future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. But he stayed involved in political conversation, and in 2007 co-chaired Quebec’s Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences. In that capacity, he studied and made recommendations on cultural integration, collective identity, church-state relations, and how to handle cultural and religious harmonization requests.

Taylor taught Canadians to talk to each other via theory and example, explains Taylor’s long-time colleague, political scientist James Tully, in this essay. In doing so, he also helped the nation move toward embracing a kind of deep multiculturalism.

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VIDEO: What Does Poetry Prove About Humans?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/poetry-prove-humans/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/poetry-prove-humans/viewings/glimpses/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:23 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81517

In 1798, poet William Wordsworth and his sister took a walk in the Welsh countryside. The poem he wrote about that walk—“Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”—moved readers deeply. Wordsworth was one of the leading poets of the Romantic era, and he called poetry “a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”

What is it about humans and our relationship to language that allows us to be so moved by poetry? In this interview philosopher Charles Taylor talks about his next book, which contemplates the change in Romantic poetry, and what it is that poetry proves about being human.

Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf is one scientist studying the big puzzle of how the brain reads. She explains in this essay how Taylor’s arguments about language as a fundamentally human endeavor add to that debate.

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In 1798, poet William Wordsworth and his sister took a walk in the Welsh countryside. The poem he wrote about that walk—“Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”—moved readers deeply. Wordsworth was one of the leading poets of the Romantic era, and he called poetry “a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”

What is it about humans and our relationship to language that allows us to be so moved by poetry? In this interview philosopher Charles Taylor talks about his next book, which contemplates the change in Romantic poetry, and what it is that poetry proves about being human.

Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf is one scientist studying the big puzzle of how the brain reads. She explains in this essay how Taylor’s arguments about language as a fundamentally human endeavor add to that debate.

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VIDEO: What Does Philosophy Need to Do in the Future?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/philosophy-need-future/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/philosophy-need-future/viewings/glimpses/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:22 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81533

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor is the 2016 recipient of the Berggruen Philosophy Prize for ideas that shape the world. His work has crossed disciplines from philosophy to political science, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, poetry, and music. We asked him what the future of philosophy should look like.

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Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor is the 2016 recipient of the Berggruen Philosophy Prize for ideas that shape the world. His work has crossed disciplines from philosophy to political science, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, poetry, and music. We asked him what the future of philosophy should look like.

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VIDEO: How to Struggle With Big Questionshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/struggle-big-questions/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/struggle-big-questions/viewings/glimpses/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:07 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81503

Charles Taylor’s 1989 book Sources of the Self is about 600 pages long, drawing on history, philosophy, poetry, music, and art to explain how the modern Western sense of self and identity came to be. Starting with Augustine, Taylor describes how people conceived of themselves from antiquity, and how a new understanding of the self started during the time of Descartes and the Enlightenment. These new selves were characterized by their inwardness, their interest in freedom, individuality, and a sense of being embedded in nature. “We have yet to capture, I think, the unique combination of greatness and danger, of grandeur and misère, which characterizes the modern age.”

We asked Taylor how he struggles with big questions, what his research process is like, and how he felt as he wrote Sources of the Self.

Chris Bloor, a former student of Taylor’s, discovered Sources of the Self while working at

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Charles Taylor’s 1989 book Sources of the Self is about 600 pages long, drawing on history, philosophy, poetry, music, and art to explain how the modern Western sense of self and identity came to be. Starting with Augustine, Taylor describes how people conceived of themselves from antiquity, and how a new understanding of the self started during the time of Descartes and the Enlightenment. These new selves were characterized by their inwardness, their interest in freedom, individuality, and a sense of being embedded in nature. “We have yet to capture, I think, the unique combination of greatness and danger, of grandeur and misère, which characterizes the modern age.”

We asked Taylor how he struggles with big questions, what his research process is like, and how he felt as he wrote Sources of the Self.

Chris Bloor, a former student of Taylor’s, discovered Sources of the Self while working at a soul-sucking consulting job. In this essay he explains how it changed the course of his life.

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VIDEO: Is Fighting Populist Anger a Losing Battle?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/fighting-populist-anger-losing-battle/viewings/glimpses/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/11/28/fighting-populist-anger-losing-battle/viewings/glimpses/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:00:00 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=81539

Populist anger is shaking the world, epitomized by the U.K.’s vote to “Brexit” the EU and even the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. In the U.S., Donald Trump’s election has transformed populist anger into political power. Is a worldwide populist wave inevitable?

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has spent decades studying how democracies succeed and fail, in the West and elsewhere. He has also been a leading voice for the unity of Canada and the distinctive identity of Quebec, which forced him to grapple with the causes of populist rage and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Here he explains what can be done to address populist anger and the stereotyping of immigrants.

UCLA sociologist Jeff Guhin spends time hanging out in evangelical Christian, Muslim, and secular high schools in the U.S. In this essay, he explains how Taylor’s ways of understanding both faith and secularity make it possible to understand and study

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Populist anger is shaking the world, epitomized by the U.K.’s vote to “Brexit” the EU and even the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. In the U.S., Donald Trump’s election has transformed populist anger into political power. Is a worldwide populist wave inevitable?

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has spent decades studying how democracies succeed and fail, in the West and elsewhere. He has also been a leading voice for the unity of Canada and the distinctive identity of Quebec, which forced him to grapple with the causes of populist rage and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Here he explains what can be done to address populist anger and the stereotyping of immigrants.

UCLA sociologist Jeff Guhin spends time hanging out in evangelical Christian, Muslim, and secular high schools in the U.S. In this essay, he explains how Taylor’s ways of understanding both faith and secularity make it possible to understand and study ways of thinking that are different from our own.

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