South East Asia consists of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The history of the region is largely determined by its geography, and the following survey summarizes the main influences. I think it demonstrates how deeply world history influences the history of any region and vice versa; it also […]

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I became interested in South East Asia in recent years, and I traveled through the region during the summer of 2017. I live in the Bay Area of California,  which is increasingly influenced not only by China, but also by Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand. America’s identity is deeply intertwined with Asia: The American defeat […]

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Here are my book suggestions for 2017. There is a little bit of everything, and the selection is purely subjective. Some of the books are older, but have lasting value (for instance “Psychopathology and Politics.”) The books about environmental problems have a dark outlook – maybe we are beyond the point where catastrophes could have […]

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“The city allows you to become yourself by making a stranger of you.” We are experiencing a historical transition – human civilization will more and more coalesce into very large urban centers. Cities are the manifestation of the cultural, economic and social acceleration that we have experienced in the last century. In 1950 about 2/3 of the population worldwide lived in rural areas, and 1/3 in urban settlements. By 2050, we will roughly see the reverse distribution, with more than 6 billion people living in the crowded environment of urbanized areas.

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Emmanuel Levinas is a unique philosopher in the 20th century. He redefines traditional philosophy by radically re-thinking it from the point of view of justice, which in his understanding originates in the encounter with the other. For Aristotle, the “first philosophy” is metaphysics: what is the meaning of the verb “to be.” This leads to […]

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It is spring in California, and we had plenty of rain through the winter. Everything is in bloom, and the De Young Museum uses this abundance to organize its annual “Bouquets to Art” exhibition. The idea is simple, and it draws huge crowds of spectators. The museum invites floral designers and artists to let themselves […]

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The use of torture as a form of punishment was commonplace in European societies into the early 19th century. Today, we are outraged by mass killings, genocide, and ISIS beheadings, but extreme violence has always been there; it runs deep in human history. We are all traumatized, and it is difficult to work through the […]

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