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Upcoming Reading Group Topics


The Rise of Digital Repression

by Steven Feldstein

May 28, 2021, 7:30 am - 9:00 am

In The Rise of Digital Repression, Steven Feldstein documents how the emergence of advanced digital tools bring new dimensions to political repression. Presenting new field research from Thailand, the Philippines, and Ethiopia, he investigates the goals, motivations, and drivers of these digital tactics. Feldstein further highlights how governments pursue digital strategies based on a range of factors: ongoing levels of repression, political leadership, state capacity, and technological development. The international community, he argues, is already seeing glimpses of what the frontiers of repression look like. For instance, Chinese authorities have brought together mass surveillance, censorship, DNA collection, and artificial intelligence to enforce their directives in Xinjiang. As many of these trends go global, Feldstein shows how this has major implications for democracies and civil society activists around the world.

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The Inevitability of Tragedy

by Barry Gewen

June 25, 2021, 7:30 am - 9:00 am

Few public officials have provoked such intense controversy as Henry Kissinger. During his time in the Nixon and Ford administrations, he came to be admired and hated in equal measure. Notoriously, he believed that foreign affairs ought to be based primarily on the power relationships of a situation, not simply on ethics. He went so far as to argue that under certain circumstances America had to protect its national interests even if that meant repressing other countries’ attempts at democracy. For this reason, many today on both the right and left dismiss him as a latter-day Machiavelli, ignoring the breadth and complexity of his thought. With The Inevitability of Tragedy, Barry Gewen corrects this shallow view, presenting the fascinating story of Kissinger’s development as both a strategist and an intellectual and examining his unique role in government through his ideas. This book analyzes his contentious policies in Vietnam and Chile, guided by a fresh understanding of his definition of Realism, the belief that world politics is based on an inevitable, tragic competition for power.

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Plunder: Napoleon's Theft of Veronese's Feast

by Cynthia Saltzman

September 24, 2021, 7:30 am - 9:00 am

Cynthia Saltzman’s Plunder recounts the fate of Paolo Veronese’s Wedding Feast at Cana, a vast, sublime canvas that the French, under the command of the young Napoleon Bonaparte, tore from a wall of the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, on an island in Venice, in 1797. Painted in 1563 during the Renaissance, the picture was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. Veronese had filled the scene with some 130 figures, lavishing color on the canvas to build the illusion that the viewers’ space opened onto a biblical banquet taking place on a terrace in sixteenth-century Venice. Once pulled from the wall, the Venetian canvas crossed the Mediterranean rolled on a cylinder; soon after, artworks commandeered from Venice and Rome were triumphantly brought into Paris. In 1801, the Veronese went on exhibition at the Louvre, the new public art museum founded during the Revolution in the former palace of the French kings. 

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October Reading Group | October 29, 2021, 7:30 am - 9:00 am  
November Reading Group | November 26, 2021, 7:30 am - 9:00 am  

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