Image by Deborah Jian Lee. China, 2011.

Peter Chilson, one of the four authors we’ve commissioned to produce a series of e-books on borderlands, became an accidental war correspondent this week when he found himself in the midst of a coup attempt in Mali. Peter, a professor of English at Washington State University, is writing about borders in West Africa, how they came to be and what they mean for the future. “Mali’s northern frontier is not a line, but a blur, where one struggling power fades into another along a zone of both shared and contrasting ideas of religion, history, and culture,” he reports. “This is how frontiers looked in Africa before Europe started drawing lines on maps.” The e-book will be published in partnership with Foreign Policy later this year, but if you want to read about his recent close encounter with a “mango bomb,” read his dispatch for Untold Stories.

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China’s rapid industrialization and breakneck economic growth have been hard on families. As parents from rural areas migrate to cities in search of better paying jobs, they are often forced to leave their children behind, usually in the care of grandparents or older siblings. Researchers estimate that 58 million children have been left to stumble through their formative years without parental guidance—a difficult choice born out of economic necessity. Pulitzer Center grantees Deborah Jian Lee and Sushma Subramanian, in a two-part series for Foreign Policy, document the story of one family and the high price that both parents and children have paid for China’s new prosperity.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor