The Ancients (History Hit) So you thought that after finishing the History of Rome podcast, that would be it for the Romans? NO WAY as my little two-and-a-half-year-old grandson would say: I didn’t listen to over 70 hours of podcasts just for it to go in one ear and out the other! So, when I saw Prosthetics in Antiquity, that sounded interesting. Dr Jane Draycott from University of Glasgow explains that there was no actual word for ‘prosthesis’ in antiquity, although they did have wigs, artificial legs and feet, false teeth etc. Unlike today, when prostheses are made to look as natural as possible, in Ancient Greece and Rome it was felt that for a prosthesis to be lifelike was a form of deception and disguise. Instead, prostheses were personalized and, in the case of wealthy wearers, were a form of display. Many examples have been found in tombs, although wooden prostheses were less likely to survive than metal ones. There are also many references in literature to prostheses, although they were mentioned in passing, rather than described fully. Fascinating.
Emperors of Rome. I haven’t listened to this in a while- and Dr. Rhiannon Evans is back! Episode CXCVI – Fulvia looks at this aristocratic woman who lived in the late Roman Republic. Born into an important Plebian political dynasty, she was politically active in her own right too and married three times, most importantly to Marc Antony. She was directly involved in raising troops to fight for Antony in the Perusine War against Octavian (the future Emperor Augustus) in 41-40 BCE. Anthony didn’t appreciate her involvement, though, and he had her exiled. Cicero didn’t have a good word to say about her, and this has influenced the way historians have viewed her.
New Books Network – New Books in Latin American Studies. In this interview, Kate Phillips, the author of Bought and Sold: Scotland, Jamaica and Slavery claims that the Scots role in West Indian slavery is little known. This might be true of the man-in-the-street in Scotland, but it is not true of historians (and I note that Phillips is a retired social development specialist from Glasgow University, rather than a historian). Even here in Melbourne we have the city of Moreland changing its name because of its association with ‘Moreland’, a plantation owned by the family of Farquahar McCrae, who made no secret of their Scottishness. Apart from this questionable claim, however, Phillips has delved into the archives to draw a rich picture of plantation life for both Scots owners and overseers, and their enslaved workers. She points out that the field slave was more likely to be a young woman than a man, because men were generally trained to work as carpenters, bricklayers, mill workers etc. Ironically, after the Apprenticeship system broke down in the 1840s (and Scots slave-owners had applied for compensation for the loss of their ‘property’) formerly enslaved workers squatted on their old plantation lands, when their Scots ‘owners’ just went ‘home’ without selling the plantation. Now that Jamaica is becoming a tourist population, the descendants in Scotland are reaping the profits from these ‘abandoned’ properties.
History Workshop Podcast. Transnational Suffragettes starts off disastrously with about 2 minutes of the presenters all talking simultaneously over each other. However, the problem is soon resolved and a discussion follows, chaired by Australian historian now at Cambridge, Rosa Campbell, with James Keating a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Australia and New Zealand and author of Distant Sisters: Australasian Women and the International Struggle for the Vote, 1880–1914 and Sumita Mukherjee a historian of nineteenth and twentieth century transnationalism, mobility and migration in South Asia, Britain and the British Empire, with a particular focus on gender, and author of Indian Suffragettes: Female Identities and Transnational Networks. They discuss the transnational women’s movement at the start of the 20th century, where the hierarchy was: 1. White Women, 2. Indian and Japanese Women, 3. Black Women and 4. First Nations Women. Although included in international conferences, women from ‘The South’ were not able to get their concerns reflected in the agendas of these larger meetings, although they were able to develop networks. In Australia in particular, the women’s suffrage movement was still very much a state-based (as distinct from national) concern, which did not lend itself easily to international events. Nonetheless, in Aust and NZ, representatives disseminated international news through scrapbooks, newspaper articles, magic lantern shows and circulation of letters. He particularly mentions the Womens Christian Temperance Union, an international body which took an increased interest in Maori women when they achieved the vote alongside white women in NZ. Meanwhile, Indian suffragettes looked back past British colonialism to the Vedic tradition.
The History Listen (ABC) is running a 3-part series called ‘The Loveday Trilogy’ which looks at individuals who ended up in Loveday internment camp in South Australia during WW2. This episode, Francesco Fantin, is actually the second episode, but you don’t need to have listened to the first one. Fantin was born in Italy in 1901 to a working class family. Largely self-educated, he became an anarchist and socialist. When Mussolini came to power in 1922, Australia became a favoured destination for anti-fascists, and he emigrated to Australia and headed for the Queensland cane fields. There he became labour organizer, and he led a strike action to demand the burning of canefields to kill off rats and snakes, a health-and-safety act opposed by the sugar planters. But when he was arrested and interned in 1942, he found himself in a camp where the fascists outnumbered the anti-fascists, and his life was in just as much peril as it might have been in Italy.
The Documentary (BBC) Now that Boris has gone, The Documentary looks at Global Britain after Boris Johnson, in a rather too flattering episode, I feel. Given Johnson’s penchant for Shakespeare, it is presented as a play with 5 acts: 1. Brexit 2. Johnson meets Biden 3. Exit from Afghanistan 4. COP 26 and 5. Ukraine. Almost makes you forget what a twat he is.
History Hit. In A Short History of Humans, Dan Snow interviews economist Oded Galor, the founder of Unified Growth Theory and author of the recently released The Journey of Humanity: The Origins of Wealth and Inequality. He argues that for 99.9% of man’s history, there was no substantial change in the rate of man’s progress, as any technological advance led to an increase in population, which largely cancelled out an advances. However, during the last two hundred years, rapid technological change has led to increased complexity requiring more universal education, for which parents needed to reduce their family size. He sees the Industrial Revolution itself as a red herring, emphasizing acceleration of change, rather than innovation, and he largely discounts cultural and biographical factors in world history. However, he softens this later on in the interview when discussing why Western Europe became the centre of accelerating change. In counter-point to the example of China, he points to Western Europe’s cultural fluidity which led to competitive nationalism, and factors like geography, culture and institutions which affected the “take off” point from stagnation to growth. He suggests that these factors can be “designed into” development programs, leading generally to progressive policy in terms of education, human rights etc. He is very ‘economic’-y, seeing growth as an unqualified good, and in this interview, silent on the effect of climate change.