Philippe Descola interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 3rd February 2015

An interview of the French anthropologist Philippe Descola on his work and life. Edited by Sarah Harrison

The gory and grotesque art of Soviet antireligious propaganda


The images below are from the Soviet anti-religious magazine, Bezbozhnik, which translates to “Atheist” or “The Godless.” It ran from 1922 to 1941, and its daily edition, “The Godless at the Workplace,” ran from 1923 to 1931. The scathing publication was founded by the League of Militant Atheists, an organization of the Soviet Communist Party members, members of its youth league, workers and veterans, so while it was in many ways a party project, it was not state-sponsored satire.The Soviet Union adopted a formal position of state-atheism after the revolution but it wasn’t a clean break. The expropriation of church property and the murder or persecution of clergy was certainly the most obvious supplantation of power, but the USSR was a giant mass of land, most of it rural and much of it pious, so the cultural crusade against religion was an ongoing campaign for the hearts and minds of citizens who might resist a sudden massive secularization. The monstrous, violent art you see below depicted religion as the enemy of the worker and footman to capitalism. You’ll notice a wide array of religions depicted, as the USSR was very religiously diverse.


‘What will people say?’: Indian Americans balance family with LGBT identity

For many gay and lesbian South Asians living in the US, coming out involves bridging gaps between culture, community and sexuality

sunu chandy
Sunu Chandy with her daughter Satya, her wife Erika Symmonds and Erika’s grandmother, Elaine Osbourne. Chandy’s parents attended their wedding after she conducted ‘a full campaign’. Photograph: Elizabeth Leitzell

When Parag Mehta came out to his parents, he had already been through two suicide attempts. At the time, he was in his final semester at the University of Texas and decided he had hidden his sexuality from his family long enough.

This was in 1999, well before Mehta became Barack Obama’s first liaison to the LGBT community – the first of three Indian Americans to eventually hold that post – and before his current appointment as chief of staff to the new surgeon general, Vivek Murthy.