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 Elusive Edward Said

August 06, 2021

Palestinian polymath Edward W. Said died in 2003, but it has taken until 2021 for a full-length intellectual biography to appear, one that properly backgrounds his life against both the political and intellectual history of his time and how, within this history, he stood out. There has been a recent...

The Dazzling Shallowness of Bernard-Henri Levy

November 25, 2020

One of the attractions, or oddities, of France is its reverence of those who are regarded as philosophers, or at least philosophical thinkers. In the age of fast information, we also have fast philosophy — soundbite philosophy. Not that this has no value, but this value has to be abstracted...

Juliette Greco: Snatching Dignity From the Jaws of the Absurd

October 02, 2020

Did you have to be a thinker, a philosopher, to help epitomize and pioneer an existentialist ethic in 1950s Paris? Or could you live the ethic of absurd aloneness in a mad and bad world but still maintain dignity and humanism in the face of despair? And still create something...

Susan Sontag: Overcoming Representation

June 13, 2020

Susan Sontag died 16 years ago. Nothing about her has lost its salience. If there was one intellect that marked postwar America, it was hers. She had huge ambition, indeed vanity, and hoped to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. If she had, it would not have been for her...

The Parisian Becoming of Simone de Beauvoir

May 16, 2020

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir share the same grave in the Cemetière du Montparnasse — or rather, their ashes do — and every morning someone places a long-stemmed rose on their slab beside the cemetery wall. The legendary romance is thus renewed in the eyes of the daily visitors....

Martha Nussbaum’s Magnificent Opus, a Critique

March 13, 2020

The philosopher Martha Nussbaum has a prodigious output and, indeed, it takes a prodigious effort to keep up with it. No sooner had I completed reading the latest trio of her books than a new one was signaled,  many of the recent works being based on her delivery of prestigious...

What Will Be Left of Great Britain?

December 23, 2019

As the shock of the UK general election fades, many questions will take time to be answered. Not that the reelection of the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was a shock, but the size of his majority in Parliament was one that no Labour Party strategist had...

Is South Africa Heading for a Storm?

November 26, 2019

Despite having a technocratic president in Cyril Ramaphosa, are the structural underpinnings of the economy so weak that South Africa’s future is endangered? Allied to weak economic foundations are the questions of corruption and extremely poor public administration. The mismanagement at both the Electricity Supply Commission and South African Airways...

The English Left: A Tragedy of Our Insular Times

February 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

July 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...

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