South Africa

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
December 05, 2013

He was a hero who ranks with Abraham Lincoln. But he left a more ambivalent legacy, too.

Infinite Delay: The Last Days of Nelson Mandela
October 11, 2013

This piece originally appeared on

Nelson Mandela's Less Attractive Legacy
July 18, 2013

Not as kindly as you think.

"You Have All the Reasons to Be Angry"
March 04, 2013

The liberation of South Africa was one of the great triumphs of the twentieth century. What happened next is one of the great disappointments of the twenty-first.

How Human Rights Became our Ideology
November 16, 2012

The modern idea of human rights was only created after World War II. In the next half-century, it became a global movement.

Pussy Riot and a Protest Legacy
August 17, 2012

How Washington's protests over the Pussy Riot case connect to a long-forgotten local genre of demonstration

Bad Lads
June 23, 2012

IF YOU FOLLOW international soccer, you might be familiar with the peculiar English compulsion to vastly overrate their national team. Before each major tournament, high expectations swarm the yellow and the-not-so-yellow press. The punditocracy asserts that the current generation, whatever it may be, is overdue for success. The fans book trips in the hope of a drinking holiday in some exotic place enhanced with national arousal.

The Other Liberal Light
June 22, 2012

Recovering Liberties: Indian Thought in the Age of Liberalism and Empire By C. A. Bayly (Cambridge University Press, 383 pp., $29.99) Democracy and Its Institutions  By André Béteille (Oxford University Press India, 228 pp., £27.50) I. THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA is the most reckless political experiment in human history. Never before was a single nation constructed out of so many diverse and disparate parts. Partitioned at birth on the basis of religion, India now has almost as many Muslims as the Muslim homeland of Pakistan.

Football at a Time of Crisis
June 09, 2012

“Keep politics out of sport” went the slogan of the old guard back in the days when campaigners tried, successfully in the end, to stop England playing cricket and rugby against apartheid South Africa. But the truth is that politics and sport have been inextricably mixed up since the Roman arena, or since the Blues and the Greens competed in Byzantine Constantinople. Any idea that an international soccer tournament can be staged today without political implications is far-fetched.