Back in the spring of 2020, in the midst of the first brutal wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities were forced to effectively rethink their entire practice of learning and teaching provision. The hard core of the traditional lecture-seminar model hinged on the simultaneous presence of students and teachers in enclosed university spaces. They followed rigidly bounded weekly routines of synchronous onsite ‘contact hours’ and tried-and-tested customs of assessment that reproduced the same formula of essay and end-of-year examination. Change had been on the horizon for some time, facilitated by the advent of digital infrastructures and technologies, as well as…


Amidst an ongoing global health crisis, the globalised world has been shattered and replaced by a bleak archipelago of aggressive micro-sovereignties that would befit a far-right dystopia.

Note: a version of this piece has been published by OpenDemocracy.

In so many ways 2020 felt like a brutal reality check. So much of what had been taken for granted as part of the ‘third’ era of globalisation came to a violent halt: inter- and trans-national mobilities froze by decree or stumbled on reinvigorated hard sovereign borders; a retreat into protectionism, already evident as a trend for some time, was further legitimised in the name of existential threat; national shortages of medical equipment and then vaccines add fuel to a language of national self-sufficiency and a spirit of aggressive…


For centuries ‘civilisation’ has been a loaded, unstable, and ambiguous term. It has been used as a description of the present but also as an aspirational projection of a process that promises to lead to perfection. It could be seen to designate a positive process and trajectory, as well as a desired destination in the future; or conversely it could be suggestive of liberation from the ghosts of a supposedly primitive and barbaric prior human state. …


The declaration made by the Fascists in 1919

When a group of ultra-nationalist wannabes gathered in Milan in 1919 to hear firebrand leader Benito Mussolini speak, they became part of an infamous moment in history. There, Mussolini presented the founding manifesto of an unlikely radical political start up. Its name was Fascio di Combattimento, the humble precursor of fascism that was adopted as the name of the movement two years later.

A century on from the gathering, and after decades in the political wilderness, “fascism” is back in the news — not only as historical memory but as growing contemporary threat. Ever since the sensational victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential elections, the question “is fascism coming back?” has been voiced many times. It is also getting louder with each victory for populists like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil or Matteo Salvini in Italy.

The question is understandable and legitimate. It is also largely misleading. The current explosion of incivility in everyday life and hostility to international liberal principles…


Taboos are complex social and cultural constructions. They involve subtle prohibitions derived from supposedly accepted common standards of behavior. They protect society from excess and bestow a sense of identity upon its members. To break a taboo is thus regarded as an unacceptable transgression that violates traditions and shared codes. Such transgressive acts carry moral opprobrium and activate sanctions against the offenders, whether legal, moral or social.

This is the theory anyway. For the world we live in has been recording a bewildering trend towards taboo-breaking that, far from activating sanctions, appears to be rewarding the mavericks. The trend has…


In the run-up to the EU referendum in Britain in June 2016, at a time when the Remain vote was apparently enjoying a modest but clear advantage, one of the numerous opinion polls focused on public attitudes to immigration and on how this might affect the popular vote. When asked to assess the immigrants’s contribution to British economy, responses were split evenly between those acknowledging immigrants’s contribution to the economy and those questioning it. Yet very strong affirmative majorities were recorded by the same poll in response to questions about Britain being “overcrowded”, about the need to “significantly” restrict immigration…

Aristotle Kallis

Academic, digital enthusiast, traveller, nomad

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