The Documentary (BBC World Service) Caught in Sudan’s Conflict. It all seems so pointless and unnecessary: an armed struggle by two factions within the same army. As if Sudan hasn’t been through enough already: violence, protest, dictatorship, political instability and upheaval. Sudan borders seven other countries apparently, and ripples are likely to spread to these neighbouring countries. In this episode three women from Khartoum – Dallia, Sara and Enass – share their personal situations and concerns, followed by interviews with a very young doctor. Incessant bombing and sniper fire, electrical failure, lack of food and water, unstable internet- and overwhelmingly fatigue from the stress and 24 hr bombing- what a nightmare.
Emperors of Rome Podcast Episode LXIV – Q and A III. This Q&A session dealt with:
- What did the Romans know about China and India? (Answer: They knew a bit through trade. They knew that Alexander the Great got to north-west India, but not the subcontinent, and they knew vaguely about the Chinese through the fabled land of Scythia. The Chinese reported that a Roman envoy had visited them)
- At what point does someone who is conquered become a slave? (Answer: if the commander of a battle wanted to, he could take everyone into slavery- or he could kill them, or he could leave them alone. Up to him)
- Where did the colours come from for Roman garments? (Answer: the red came from plants. It was expensive, and so only rich people would wear it – pictures depicting the Roman Empire during the Renaissance were not accurate. Purple, which came from fish, was even more expensive.)
- What did Romans celebrate? (Answer: Saturnalia, triumphs, the emperor’s birthday (when he would give presents to the people) and their own birthdays)
- What did Romans eat? (Answer: pretty rank and disgusting things. They covered everything with garum, a fermented fish sauce. They liked disguising one food as another. For the poor people, they mainly ate grains. In fact, nearly everyone in the Ancient World was malnourished).
- Do we know where Julius Caesar was stabbed? (Answer: no, it’s an internet thing)
- Who is our favourite Emperor? (Dr. Rhiannon likes Hadrian. So do I)
- How did the ancient texts get to us today? (Answer: most of them are copies of copies because paper decays unless it’s in the desert, or buried under lava)
- How do we prepare and do our research for the podcast? (Answer: it’s not scripted but Matt does have some talking points)
- How did the emperors see themselves compared with other emperors (Answer: they had to walk a narrow line between being a ‘king’ – because the Romans were allergic to kings- and a god – but only once they were dead. The image of an emperor, and their own concept of themselves, changed over time).
Latin American History Podcast The Conquest of Peru Part 7. Now that they had killed off Atahualpa after sitting looking at each other for 9 months, they had lost their main bargaining chip. The Spanish troops were playing cat and mouse with Quizquiz, who had been one of Atahualpa’s generals. Pizzarro had arrived during a civil war between Atahualpa and his brother Huáscar, and now that Atahualpa was dead, he had to decide which side he would throw his support behind as a way of saving his own skin. In the end he went for the south, wanting to base himself in the city of Cusco.
In Our Time – Religion. NOT that I am reconciled to the idea of one of my children taking his family to Bloody Cambodia…. but. Angkor Wat was built for Suryavarman II in the 12th Century in modern-day Cambodia. The Sanskrit culture at that time stretched from Afghanistan through to Bali, in a form of colonialism without the military bit. At the time, Angkor Wat was the largest urban location in the world, with 700,000 to 900,000 people. The temple itself is four times the size of Vatican City and almost the same size as Old London at the time. It is a sculpture in its own right, constructed without mortar. It was built as a Hindu temple to Vishu, but in the 16th century the royal family became Buddhist. Unlike European cathedrals, it was built in an amazing 32 years, and the carvings were made in situ, so there was no scope for mistakes. When the French colonized, they put out the belief that the temple had been ‘lost’, but in fact, it had never been abandoned. Melvyn Bragg, who has been hosting this program for decades, sounds very old and quavery.
Hoy Hablamos. This podcast in Spanish, presented by a Spaniard (as distinct from a Latin American) goes pretty damned fast. I bought a year’s subscription, which gives you access to a transcript and some vocabulary exercises, and with the transcript I can just follow it. Fortunately, the episodes only last about 10 minutes which is my limit at such intensity, so I listen first time by myself, a second time with the transcript, then a third time without the transcript once I know what it’s about. Anyway, during February this year he did a four part series a bout the Guerra Civil Espanola (i.e. the Spanish Civil War), with one episode a week, and it’s really good. It had never occurred to me (forgive me if this is self-evident to everyone else in the world) but Franco the right-wing dictator was actually the rebel leader. I’ve listened to three episodes: Episode 1515 Antecedents and Causes; followed a week later by the Episode 1519 Parties (Bandas), then Episode 1524 Developments. The last episode is Episode 1528 Consequences. But be warned: it’s all in Spanish, and it’s fast.
Take Me to Your Leader (ABC). I’ve finally finished listening to this series, with the final Episode 8: Narendra Modi. I must confess to being rather wary of Narendra Modi and the BJP party, and I don’t particularly feel reassured after this program. It features Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Journalist and Author of ‘Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times‘.Dr. Bharat Barai and Dr Panna Barai, longtime friends of Modi; Professor Ian Hall, Griffith University. Author of ‘Modi and the Reinvention of Indian Foreign Policy’.Lance Price, Author of ‘The Modi Effect‘. Modi faced international criticism over the Gujurat Riots in 2002, and several of the guests (except his friends) felt that he could be characterized as anti-Muslim, even though the Indian Supreme Court acquitted him of complicity. As with many of the leaders that Hamish Macdonald has examined in this series, there is consensus that he’s not going anywhere in a hurry.
Rear Vision (ABC) Heading up to the Voice Referendum, this is a two-parter. The first episode looks at the 1967 Referendum- a vote to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People as part of the Australian population. As the presenters point out, there had been Aboriginal activism from the 1930s onwards, but by the 1950s, pressure was building for constitutional change. Holt agreed in 1967. There were two parts to the Aboriginal question. The first was that they be counted in the census which they did not previously, presumably because censuses were used to allocate electoral boundaries and there was little prospect, when the constitution was framed, that Aboriginal people would vote. In fact, Aboriginal people did have the vote by now, but many of them did not realize it. The second was that the race powers of the Constitution, which had been written to support the White Australia Policy by legislating against Indian, Chinese and Islander worker populations, be extended to Aboriginal people so that special legislation could be implemented for them. [It’s interesting to hear ‘No’ voters saying that the Voice will be divisive because it gives ‘special’ treatment, and yet the 1967 Referendum, which had bipartisan support at the time, did exactly this quite consciously]. There was another referendum held on the same day with a question about the composition and size of Parliament, and this was far more politically contentious, and when it did not get up, newspaper headlines said that the referendum had failed. The 91% yes vote for the Aboriginal questions was more or less taken for granted. In reality, little changed immediately following the Referendum, but the clause about race-specific legislation laid the groundwork for later legislation, not all of which was positive for Indigenous people.
Part II Giving a Voice to Indigenous Australians- why has it always failed? goes through the history of different consultative committees, highlighting why the Yes proponents want it enshrined in the constitution, and not just by legislation. After 1967 an advisory committee was established with three white men. Whitlam established the elected National Aboriginal Consultative Committee, but when Fraser got in, he abolished it and established the National Aboriginal Conference. This was probably more an exercise in political fence-marking, because both bodies were elected, with about 35-40 delegates, and Fraser made only modest changes. Both were largely ignored. Hawke abolished the National Aboriginal Conference in 1985, probably because it was critical of the Hawke government’s backdown on land rights, and established ATSIC instead in 1987 after two years consultation. It was formed of 63 regional councils (later reduced to 35), and it had a board of 17 members and a chair. It had two roles: 1. to advise the government (not just the Minister) and 2. to oversee expenditure of money. When Howard got in, ATSIC, its regional councils and aboriginal organizations were heavily audited, and the accusations and ongoing criminal proceedings against the ATSIC Chair Geoff Clarke gave Howard licence to abolish ATSIC, supported by Mark Latham. Nothing replaced it. I really enjoyed both these episodes. I thought that I was relatively well-informed, but I really learned a lot.