Actual Cultural Appropriation

These days we hear the term cultural appropriation in reference to everything from music to hair styles, but there are more serious instances where the phrase takes on real significance. For example, a recently completed exhibition at London’s British Library Ritblat Treasures Gallery called African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia featured a collection of ancient religious texts from the Library’s own archives. The show has renewed discussions around whether Western cultural institutions have benefited from, and continue to exploit,colonial and imperialist looting of local cultures.

While the British Library and similar institutions have preserved and protected cultural treasures from around the world, questions remain about the provenance of culturally significant works, such as these ancient manuscripts, and the perceived need of European and American institutions to continue to maintain control of these objects. In the case of these priceless manuscripts, the British Library has already begun the process of digitizing the entire collection. When that project is completed, will they consider returning the books and related items to Ethiopia ?

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Bansky in Paris

It’s hard to believe, but the mysterious British street artist(s) known as Banksy just made a first foray into Paris. These images are the first to be discovered. Hopefully, we’ll see some more in the coming days.

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Embrace Vellichor

Revel in vellichor and forget your worries.

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Books are there for you

This encouraging message was recently spotted on the sidewalk chalkboard outside of Books A Plenty indie bookshop in Tauranga, New Zealand.


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Bible Stories

Tom the Dancing Bug 1393 jeff sessions bible stories

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NYC Way-Back Machine

Many years ago, when I made the transition from book collector to bookseller, a client asked me to locate a copy of “The Picture of New-York, Or The Traveller’s Guide Through The Commercial Metropolis of the United States, By a Gentleman Residing in the City” 1807, First Edition in the original binding, with laid-in map by William Bridges, and in Good condition.

This hard to find 223 page guidebook, which was written by Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill, also happens to be the very first published guidebook for New York City. I’ll spare any suspense and admit that I never did find a copy that met the client’s requirements. However, I recently heard about a rebound copy that sold for $1375 two months ago, as well as a complete digitized version at the Internet Archive.

If you are into early travel guides, it may be worth a look at the digital copy of this fascinating book which offers a rare glimpse into the life of America’s greatest city. The title of Dr. Mitchill’s seminal guidebook was, you will discover, a bit hyperbolic in 1807, as New York City had a population of just 60,000 and hardly qualified as “the Commercial Metropolis of the United States.” In fact, there wasn’t much to the city north of present day Soho except for farms and woods.


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As Important As The Eiffel Tower ?

Les Bouquinistes, the booksellers whose iconic green stalls have lined the River Seine in the heart of Paris for more than two hundred years, are campaigning to be recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural treasure. Jerome Callais, the president of the bouquinistes’ trade group, has said that, “faced with the crisis among booksellers, the multimedia, and the increasing lack of education, we are hoping to put the spotlight on us. We are as important for tourists as the Eiffel Tower.”

The push for UNESCO recognition has received full support from the municipal government and the ministry of culture, which will put forward the booksellers’ candidacy.

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Blue Monday

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Cure for Summer Heat

Whenever I am asked to chose my favorite countries to visit, I always place Norway in the top three. After viewing this spectacular short 4k film by Moscow-based photographer Sergey Lukankin I think that you will agree with me that Norway is amazing.

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Philly’s Own High Line

This week, Philadelphia inaugurated the initial section of the long awaited Rail Park. The first phase of the urban greenspace runs along a formerly derelict Reading Railroad 19th century viaduct. When it is completed, the Rail Park will run for 3 miles and be twice the length and width of New York City’s hugely successful High Line.

The newly opened section follows the historic railway line southeast from Broad Street to 11th and Callowhill Streets in the up and coming Spring Garden neighborhood. While the park is well-landscaped with native plants and trees, it keeps a decidedly industrial urban vibe with metal fencing, wooden seating, and platforms.

The Rail Park can currently be accessed from entrances at Broad and Noble, and at Callowhill Street between 11th and 12th. If you’re planning to take public transit to the park, take SEPTA’s Broad Street Line to the Spring Garden Station and then it’s just one block to the park entrance.

For more information on the project visit the Rail Park website. 

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