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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Fred Astaire and the Blackface Talking

One might argue that blackface performances of the thirties and forties (and earlier) are so far in the past and such a product of their time as to be beyond judgment, but I’d disagree. I’d rather assessments of artists be made with knowledge of their warts and all.

The Syncretic Saris of Banaras

I came to Banaras in the winter of 2010 seeking answer to one question: was the sari—the nine-yard piece of cloth worn by Indian women—Hindu or Muslim? This might sound like an odd question, but in the context of India it isn’t, where even allegedly eating beef can get a person beaten to death, or while killing a cow in the state of Gujarat earns life imprisonment.