I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 8-15 July 2019

Revolutions podcast: Once again, an excellent podcast about Marxism, this time looking at Historical Materialism. I wish that I had heard this back in the 1970s doing undergraduate European history! If you’ve ever been a bit fuzzy about Marxism, this and the preceding podcasts are must-listens.

Earshot (ABC) In November last year, we began hearing about the ‘caravan’ of refugees heading towards the Mexican/American border. This episode Life on the Border:Tijuana migrant stories features interviews with people who joined this ‘caravan’, counting on the strength of numbers for safety and as a tactic for safe passage. Very human.

Rear Vision (ABC) When we think of slavery, we tend to think of the southern states of America and the British slave trade in the West Indies.  Less often do we think of the Dutch, and even less often do we think of Denmark. But Denmark did have its own slave trading and sugar plantation economy. Hans Jonathan was born in 1784 the son of a white Danish colonist on the island St Croix and a slave mother. After being brought to Copenhagen, he decided to escape to Iceland. The blue man was black: Hans Jonathan’s slave saga captures this unknown perspective on slavery and colour.

Rear Vision has also had two features on the signing of the treaty of Versailles. They are repeats from 2009. The first one, the Paris Peace Conference, looks at the various motivations of the different participants, including Australia.  The second episode, also first aired in 2009 explores The Impact of the Versailles Treaty. It’s a bit repetitive of the first episode, but it’s interesting in that Margaret Macmillan rebuts the idea that the Treaty directly led to the Second World War, and Robert Fisk gives a good perspective on the Middle East.

Duolingo. Duolingo’s Spanish podcasts are roughly 50/50 English/Spanish and at intermediate level. There are transcripts on their webpage, and Google Translate could help you with the Spanish if you’re stuck.  Mi Dos Papas (My Two Dads) is about a Colombian woman who decides to look for her ‘real’ father, only to find a father in another place.

rubbleHistory Hour (BBC) This program advertises itself as ‘historical reporting by the people who were there’. As a result, it focuses on 20th century history, drawing on the huge archives of the BBC. There are about four stories in each episode. I was drawn to this podcast by the feature on the burning of Kenya’s ivory stockpile (the remains of which are still in the Nairobi National Park in this picture). There was also a story about the execution of high-ranking colleagues of Castro in Cuba; the historian who translated Ann Lister’s journals; and an experimental facility where they deliberately gave people the common cold in order to research it. But the most fascinating of all was a segment on the introduction of tampons to China in the 1980s. It was a difficult product to market and even now only 2% of Chinese women use tampons.

New Books in History. This time the podcast is within the field Mormon Studies- who would have thunk that there was such a thing? The rather gushy interviewer talks with Quincy D. Newell, the (female) author of “Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth Century Black Mormon“.  In 1842 free woman Afro-American Jane Manning James joined the Mormon church after being raised a Congregationalist, at a time when the Mormons encouraged pentecostalism – talking in tongues etc.  In a largely white church, she was a bit like Forrest Gump in that she had connections with all the Smiths and the big-daddies of Mormonism, but she was excluded from the ritual of endowment (a type of priesthood) and adoption (a form of sealing making sure that relationships are for eternity) probably on the basis of colour. She was, however, allowed to be adopted as a servant! She was finally endowed posthumously, 75 years after her death!  Like all New Books in History, this is very low-tech and aimed at an academic audience.

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