Portraits: A Gallery of Intellectuals

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The paradox of contemporary Tunisia is that it is a seaside tourist destination that, according to a report by the security-intelligence firm the Soufan Group, has seen, proportionally to its population, more of its people leave to join jihadists in Syria, Libya and Iraq than any other nation. The Tunisian Ministry of the Interior has disputed the figures in this report. Since , Tunis has been both the epicenter of dramatic upheavals to the way of life in the Arab world, and a kind of respite from these convulsions.

It is a country that has one foot in political fervor, and the other in a dolce far niente lifestyle that is often asserted with no small amount of pride by the people here. Sicily is about 90 miles away, a fact that is keenly apparent on the heavenly coast, though one is never far from a reminder that, merely five years ago, the streets of Tunis were crammed with revolutionary crowds.

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The events of took everyone by surprise, giving voice to long-simmering resentments and an intense desire to construct a new way forward. In its ongoing struggle for democracy, Tunisia has since seen more protests — the country has a stubbornly high unemployment rate — but remains the most stable of the countries that went through the Arab Spring.


The years following the protests have produced numerous frustrations and tragedies, but there has also been a revolution of a different sort, one more cultural in nature. Being there, I felt as if, cautiously, a vibrant community of artists and intellectuals centered along the coast were rebuilding Tunis in their own image.

Possessed of broader avenues for communication and a closer relationship to the surrounding region, a new bohemian culture is rising in Tunisia as the country reconnects with its complicated past, staking out hope, albeit uncertainly, for a better future. Here are its best galleries and bookshops — Galerie El Marsa , Mille Feuilles — alongside a wide, balconied promenade that overlooks one of its most popular stretches of beach.

The house is deliriously crammed with folk art from all eras: local Tunisian paintings, Sicilian puppets procured from the medina, a wooden statuette of Barack Obama.

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Bennys worked for many years as a cameraman for NBC News, which sent him around the world. He spoke of going to primary school with Spaniards, Italians and Jews. He strongly, and perhaps ironically, resembled a middle-aged Ezra Pound.

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Ilia Efimovich Repin | Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin (–) | The Met

Shils grew up in Philadelphia , where he went to high school. His undergraduate degree, from the University of Pennsylvania , was in French literature. He came to the attention of Louis Wirth , a distinguished sociologist at the University of Chicago, who hired Shils as a research assistant. Thereafter, Shils became recognized as an outstanding teacher in the field of sociology. His knowledge of the literatures of numerous cultures and fields was deemed to be impressive. He taught sociology, social philosophy , English literature, history of Chinese science and other subjects.

A specialist in the works of Max Weber , he also translated the works of sociologist Karl Mannheim into English. Upon returning to Chicago, he was appointed Associate Professor in , and Professor in In , he was named Distinguished Service Professor. For many years, Shils held joint appointments at Chicago and other universities. He was: reader in sociology at the London School of Economics from to ; a fellow of King's College, Cambridge , from to ; a fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge , from to ; and an honorary professor in social anthropology at the University of London from to He was named an honorary fellow at the London School of Economics in and an honorary fellow at Peterhouse in

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