In the monthly "Ethical Inquiry" series, we examine ethical questions, highlighting a broad array of opinion from journalism, academia, and advocacy organizations. Our intent is to illuminate and explore the complexity of some of the most vexing ethical questions of our time.

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Ethical Inquiry: December 2013

Recommended Books From the Year

For the December installment of "Ethical Inquiry" we are taking the opportunity to recommend some books published in the last year on topics related to the work of the Ethics Center and by people affiliated with the Center, as well as a few selections not as closely tied to our work that have impressed members of our staff. (See our 2009 recommendations, our 2010 recommendations, our 2011 recommendations, and our 2012 recommendations.) The following are selections from works published in 2013:

from the Center

Acting TogetherActing Together on the World Stage: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict

The documentary, co-produced by Dr. Cynthia E. Cohen, director of the Center’s Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, and Allison Lund, has been released in a multi-lingual edition, featuring subtitles in seven languages, in Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Sinhala, Spanish, Tamil, and English. [Acting Together]

by Ethics Center Board members


The Great Convergence: Asia, West, and the Logic of One World by Kishore Mahbubani

Kishore Mahbubani discusses the global move towards Western living standards and aspirations, and the need for new policies and attitudes in response to the new global civilization. []

Zia Mody

10 Judgements That Changed India by Zia Mody

Prominent Indian legal consultant Zia Mody chronicles ten pivotal decisions made by the Supreme Court of India. []

by members of the Center's extended justice and peacebuilding communities

Michael BalfourRefugee Performance: Practical Encounters edited by Michael Balfour

Michael Balfour, member of the arts and peace commission of the International Peace Research Association, edited this collection of essays exploring theater pieces created for, by, and with refugees. [Intellect Books]

The Interface of Civil Law and Common Law Legal

International Criminal Procedure: The Interface of Civil Law and Common Law Legal Systems edited by Fausto Pocar and Linda Carter

Fausto Pocar, professor at the University of Milan and judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia since 2000, and Linda Carter, professor at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, edited this compilation of issues that come before international crime tribunals. The authors examine selected issues that reflect a blending of, or choice between, civil law and common law models of procedure. The topics include background on civil law and common law legal systems; plea bargaining; witness proofing; written and oral evidence; self-representation and the use of assigned, standby, and amicus counsel; the role of victims; and the right to appeal. Judge Pocar has been a regular participant in the Brandeis Institute for International Judges since its inaugural session in 2002. Professor Carter has served as co-director of the BIIJ since 2006. Read Judge Pocar’s remarks about their co-edited volume here. [Edward Elgar Publishing]

by Brandeis faculty

Conflict and Peacemaking in the MiddleEast

Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East by Abdel Monem Said Aly, Shai Feldman, and Khalil Shikaki

Abdel Monem Said AlyShai Feldman, and Khalil Shikaki of Brandeis University's Crown Center for Middle East Studies, teamed up to create this groundbreaking university textbook, the first ever in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict to have been team-written by a Palestinian, an Israeli, and an Egyptian representing a broader Arab perspective. []

Tom Doherty

Hollywood and Hitler by Tom Doherty

Tom Doherty, Professor of Film Studies and member of the American Studies department, tells the story of the film industry's connections with Nazi Germany with nuance and sophistication. See David Denby's New Yorker review, which compares Doherty's book favorably to The Collaboration, another 2013 book whose sensationalism captured a lot of media attention. []

Mari Fitzduff

Public Policies in Shared Societies: A Comparative Approach by Mari Fitzduff

Mari Fitzduff, Professor and founding Director of the Masters Program in Coexistence and Conflict ( developed at the Ethics Center and now at the Heller School), draws on examples from over 50 countries of institutions adapting and shaping their policies and practices to help create more inclusive, equal, and peaceful societies. Fitzduff explores how everyday processes, such as how we organize our working and political lives; develop our policing, health and education systems; protect the environment or respond to cultural differences can all help or hinder such work. []

Karen Hansen

Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930 by Karen Hansen

Drawing on 15 years of archival research and 130 oral histories, Karen V. Hansen, Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, explores the conflicting sense of community and inequality between the impoverished Scandanavian immigrants and North Dakotan Indians as they competed for land on the Great Plains, and the power it conveyed. Personal family history inspired Hansen to chronicle epic issues of co-existence between settlers and Indians and the effect of racial hierarchies, both legal and cultural, on marginalized peoples. [BrandeisNOW article] []


Global Dexterity: How to Adapt Your Behavior Across Cultures Without Losing Yourself in the Process by Andy Molinsky

Andy Molinsky of the Brandeis International Business School faculty offers an accessible and practical guide for people in business who want to build relationships across cultural boundaries without sacrificing their own integrity and personal identity. []

fiction (and beyond)

Richard Blanco

For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey by Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco, the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, recounts his experiences on the day he received the call inviting him to be a part of the 2012 Inauguration, and the days that followed. He chronicles his inspirations and the challenges he faced as he crafted the inaugural poem, including his experiences as a Latino immigrant and a gay man. [] Special Note: Blanco visited Brandeis on November 21. His visit was sponsored by the Hispanic Studies Department.

NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

A harrowing story of a young girl caught in the currents of social and economic forces in an impoverished community in Zimbabwe, and her struggles with dislocation as she moves to the United States.  A first novel short-listed for the Booker Prize. []

James DawesEvil Men by James Dawes

James Dawes draws on first-hand interviews with convicted war criminals from the Second Sino-Japanese War for a searching meditation on our all-too-human capacity for inhumanity. [Harvard University Press]

Restoring Joy in America's Sorted Out Cities

Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities by Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Investigating urban segregation from a social health perspective, Mindy Thompson Fullilove presents ways to strengthen neighborhood connectivity and empower marginalized communities. [New Village Press]

Rachel Kushner

The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner

Italian motorcycles, radical politics, the New York art scene, the Nevada desert: this novel set in the 1970s brings together these diverse strands in an inventive fashion. []


The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

A Cambridge, Massachusetts teacher becomes entangled with the family of one of her students, challenging her perceptions of herself as a teacher, as an artist, and as a single woman. []

Mukoma wa Ngugi

Black Star Nairobi by Mukoma wa Ngugi

A crime thriller about post-election violence in Kenya, possible war crimes, and US involvement by the son of celebrated Kenyan author Ngugi w Thiong'o. []

Sonia Sotomayor

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

A moving and surprisingly personal account by a member of the nation's highest court. [] Special note: Supreme Court Associate Justice Sotomayor, at the time US Circuit Court Judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote the foreword to Dan Terris, Cesare P.R. Romano and Leigh Swigart’s 2007 book The International Judge.

What do you think?

Suggestions for other selections from 2013 that we missed in our list?  Let us know.

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