Episode 4: Mindfulness and the Politics of Eating a Raisin

Over the decades, Buddhist practice, with its own set of traditions, ethics and beliefs, has been transformed in the West to “mindfulness”, a therapeutic exercise that wields the power and authority of scientific studies and medical experts, as well as Human Resource specialists in some of the biggest companies in America and abroad. This story, a kind of bizarro companion-piece to Episode 3, presents the other side of Buddhism in… Read More »Episode 4: Mindfulness and the Politics of Eating a Raisin

Episode 3: Eight Hairs of the Buddha

After the outbreak of violence and mass displacement of the Rohingya in western Myanmar in 2017, I travelled to the country, speaking to activists, Buddhist monks and Muslim leaders in Yangon and Mandalay.  Over the months and now years since, the message I heard then began to filter out through various reports: that fake news and hate speech online had played a pivotal role in the campaign of expulsion and… Read More »Episode 3: Eight Hairs of the Buddha

Jesse Harvey: The Church of Safe Injection

Today’s Polarities interview is with Jesse Harvey, a harm-reduction advocate from Portland, Maine. Harvey founded the Church of Safe Injection in the face of the alarming rise in number of opiate-related deaths in the state of Maine, and the lack of access to safe syringes and other harm reduction material. Part of this conversation is about the role of religious framing for political and social causes and how the sanctity… Read More »Jesse Harvey: The Church of Safe Injection

David Frye: “The Walls Were Made of Mud and Men”

David Frye is the author of the book Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick. In our interview, we talk about the ancient but universal view of walls as something that made people soft, about how our own era might devolve into complacency, and the limitations of seeing walls as simply a symbol. As always, you can support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polarities

Douglas Massey: The Invention of the U.S.-Mexico Border

I was honoured to speak with Douglas Massey, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Massey’s specialty is the U.S.-Mexico border, and back in 1982 he started the Mexican Migration Project, which tracks data on migration between the two countries. This is a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation, starting in the mid 19th century and right up to the present day. We cover everything from the foundation of the… Read More »Douglas Massey: The Invention of the U.S.-Mexico Border

Episode 2: Antigone

The Ancient Greek playwright Sophocles wrote a short tragedy about the daughter of Oedipus, who battled with the state over the right to bury her brother who had fallen in war. Episode 2 of Polarities examines a grim, real-life, meta-version of the story of Antigone, playing out in the deserts of southern Arizona. This episode covers a lot of ground: it’s about the work of volunteers from the organizations No… Read More »Episode 2: Antigone

Episode 1: “Lest We Be Scattered Over the Face of the Earth”

In the inaugural episode of Polarities, we look at that great foundational myth that tries to explain the origin of languages, borders, displacement, and the concept of human division itself: the Tower of Babel. While much hay has been made from interpretations of the story that attempt to claim it for everything from fundamental Christianity to…whatever it is Borges is doing here...the truth of the story might be a lot… Read More »Episode 1: “Lest We Be Scattered Over the Face of the Earth”