Tales of the Narts: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Ossetians
The Nart sagas are to the Caucasus what Greek mythology is to Western civilization. Tales of the Narts presents a wide selection of fascinating tales preserved as a living tradition among the peoples of Ossetia in southern Russia, a region where ethnic identities have been maintained for thousands of years in the face of major cultural upheavals. A mythical tribe of tall, nomad warriors, the Narts were courageous, bold, and good-hearted. But they were also capable of cruelty, envy, and forceful measures to settle disputes. In this wonderfully vivid and accessible compilation of stories, colorful and exciting heroes, heroines, villains, and monsters pursue their destinies though a series of peculiar exploits, often with the intervention of ancient gods. The world of the Narts can be as familiar as it is alien, and the tales contain local themes as well as echoes of influence from diverse lands. The ancestors of the Ossetians once roamed freely from eastern Europe to western China, and their myths exhibit striking parallels with ancient Indian, Norse, and Greek myth. The Nart sagas may also have formed a crucial component of the Arthurian cycle. Tales of the Narts further expands the canon of this precious body of lore and demonstrates the passion and values that shaped the lives of the ancient Ossetians.
About the Author
John Colarusso is professor of anthropology and modern languages and linguistics at McMaster University and one of the world's most distinguished scholars of comparative linguistics. He is the author of The Northwest Caucasian Languages: A Phonological Survey and A Grammar of the Kabardian Language. He is also the editor of Nart Sagas: Ancient Myths and Legends from the Circassians and Abkhazians (Princeton). Tamerlan Salbiev is professor of English at North Ossetian State University and an expert of Old English.
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This Study examines the transmission of ceremonial Dong Son bronze drums from their centres of production in north Vietnam and its immediate environs along river and maritime routes throughout Mainland and Island Southeast Asia (MSEA and ISEA) from the perspective of Late Metal Age (300 BC – AD 500) exchange networks. This period saw the growth of long-distance exchange linking MSEA and ISEA and involving the mainlamd to island transmission of bronze objects and casting technology. The distribution of ceremonial bronze drums associated with political/religious power along major routes marks contracts between early cultural spheres, and particularly possible alliances which would have favoured the exchange of commodities. The growth and progressive political significance of strategically located trade centres set the stage for the process of state formation during the historic period. Examining the distribution across present national boundaries, this study focuses on “what type of drums are found where” to identify different phases and routes of transmission associated with different inter-regional networks, interconnected cultural spheres, and regional bronze drum casting traditions arising from the influence of Dong Son drums.
In this important new book, High argues that poverty reduction policies are formulated and implemented in fields of desire. Drawing on psychoanalytic understandings of desire, she shows that such programs circulate around the question of what is lacking. Far from rational responses to measures of need, then, the politics of poverty are unconscious, culturally expressed, mutually contradictory, and sometimes contrary to self-interest.
Based on long-term fieldwork in a Lao village that has been the subject of multiple poverty reduction and development programs, High’s account looks at implementation on the ground. While these efforts were laudable in their aims of reducing poverty, they often failed to achieve their objectives. Local people received them with suspicion and disillusionment. Nevertheless, poverty reduction policies continued to be renewed by planners and even desired locally. High relates this to the force of aspirations among rural Lao, ambivalent understandings of power and the “post-rebellious” moment in contemporary Laos.
About the Author
Esra Ozyurek is an associate professor at the European Institute of the London School of Economics. She is the author of “Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey”.
The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind: How Self-Interest Shapes Our Opinions and Why We Won’t Admit It
When it comes to politics, we often perceive our own beliefs as fair and socially beneficial, while seeing opposing views as merely self-serving. But in fact most political views are governed by self-interest, even if we usually don’t realize it. Challenging our fiercely held notions about what motivates us politically, this book explores how self-interest divides the public on a host of hot-button issues, from abortion and the legalization of marijuana to same-sex marriage, immigration, affirmative action, and income redistribution. Expanding the notion of interests beyond simple economics, Jason Weeden and Robert Kurzban look at how people’s interests clash when it comes to their sex lives, social status, family, and friends. Drawing on a wealth of data, they demonstrate how different groups form distinctive bundles of political positions that often stray far from what we typically think of as liberal or conservative. They show how we engage in unconscious rationalization to justify our political positions, portraying our own views as wise, benevolent, and principled while casting our opponents’ views as thoughtless and greedy. While many books on politics seek to provide partisans with new ways to feel good about their own side, The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind illuminates the hidden drivers of our politics, even if it’s a picture neither side will find flattering.
About the Author
Jason Weeden is a senior researcher with the Pennsylvania Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology (PLEEP) and a lawyer in Washington, DC. Robert Kurzban is professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of PLEEP. He is the author of “Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind” (Princeton).