Stephen Chan

Stephen Chan is a professor of international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His focus lies in security issues, using comparative philosophical and theological lenses, and he has worked on conflict resolution and postwar reconstruction in several African countries. Former international civil servant and university dean, Chan was made OBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2010. He is the author of 30 academic books, five books of poetry and three novels.

The English Left: A Tragedy of Our Insular Times

Feb 01, 2019

Despite its early 20th-century intellectual history, English thought never sought an impact outside Britain. In the 1930s, international battalions of the left flocked to Spain to join the fight against fascism. From France came figures like André Malraux, problematically the first tomb raider of South East Asia and also someone...

The Contradictions of France's World Cup Victory

Jul 21, 2018

The winning French team is populated by players who had been captured by football academies at a young age, and they too had led curiously privileged lives and enjoyed their own elite formation. There was once a certain style. Rereading the 1953 English translation of Albert Camus’s The Rebel, one...

Black Panthers Don't Speak Xhosa

Apr 04, 2018

Black Panther makes sense for black Americans who have never stayed long in Africa, people who want a Marvel Comic of their own. Since 1979, I have wandered and worked all over Africa. That work has been in the slums of great cities, innumerable war zones, universities, amidst spectacular natural...

The Uses of God

Feb 17, 2018

Demonization, a key tactic in religion, is precisely the reductionism and making wicked of any political enemy. Of all the burning issues confronting the world today, nothing causes greater concern — and greater perplexity — than the force of religion in pursuing political aims. I make this statement precisely: It...

Echoes of Empire at the Zagreb Philharmonic

Jan 03, 2018

A young conductor fails to breathe new life into a 147-year-old orchestra. The spectacle of a sign flashing across the screen, “Please Recolonise Us,” was at best a very bad joke. More likely, many in the audience would have seen it as an affront. A Bosnian Croat general had committed...

A Scandalous Novel: Marguerite Duras’ The Lover

Aug 27, 2017

Revisiting Marguerite Duras’ novel today reminds us how poignant it remains. Bertrand Russell wrote his History of Western Philosophy from memory, to earn some money while in the US. It was published in 1945 and is magisterial. But there, amidst chapter after chapter devoted to individual philosophers, is the sudden...

A Valediction of Late Life

Aug 19, 2017

Nearing the end of life, for artists, intellectuals and politicians their last hurrah carries a very specific style.  Edward Said, the late Palestinian intellectual, was not a natural bedfellow for Arsene Wenger, the French football manager in the English Premier League. However, the very first match of the 2017-18 season...

London’s Calm Response to Violence

Jun 05, 2017

The long and destructive campaign by the IRA not only hardened the citizens of London and Manchester, but increased their open-mindedness about how to deal with terrorism. In the wake of the June 3 terror attacks in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan assured Londoners of their safety. He said this as...

Will There Be Five Empires as the US Leaves the World?

Apr 23, 2017

If the US remains a world player, it will still be faced with five empires. Bernard Henri Levy, the French intellectual and provocateur, recently said that, in the wake of the US withdrawal into itself, the world stage would feature five empires. These would be Russia, Iran, Turkey, Islamic extremism...

Terror in London: We Jolly Well Carry On

Mar 24, 2017

London’s response to the latest terrorist attack is shaped by Britain’s long history of living with violence. The latest terror incident in London took place in the early afternoon of 22 March, exactly a year after the attacks in Brussels. It seems that anniversaries are now part of the terror repertoire....

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