Episode 70: Race, Slavery & Abolition in Iran

Host: Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UT-Austin
Guest: Beeta Baghoolizadeh, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

East African slave woman, 19th century.

The untimely death of a black man causes a stir in the press, causing intellectuals and activists to point to a long history of slavery and institutionalized racism in America. This isn’t a headline from 2015 (although it could be); it’s a description of how the Iranian press treated the assassination of Malcolm X. Iran, like many countries in North Africa and West Asia, has its own history of slavery, one that has been slowly forgotten in the century since its abolition; a history that is finally coming to light with a new generation of Iranian and Iranian-American historians.

Beeta Baghoolizadeh, a UT alumna who is now a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Pennsylvania, shares both the history of abolition in Iran and some personal observations on the difficulties of researching a topic long considered taboo in Persian society.

Download audio (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 51: Islam’s Enigmatic Origins

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UT-Austin
Guest: Fred M. Donner, Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago

cleansing meccaThe story of Islam’s beginnings have been told and retold countless times. The traditional narrative says that the Prophet Muhammad, an illiterate orphan from the town of Mecca,  became a prophet of God and founded a community that conquered much of the known world in little more than a century after his death. But what do we really know about Muhammad and the time in which he lived, based on historical evidence? How has this led some to reinterpret the origins of Islam?

Our guest, Fred M. Donner from the University of Chicago, has spent much of his career studying the earliest history of Islam. He offers his hypothesis on what the early Islamic community may have looked like, and describes an exciting new find that may shed new light on an old puzzle.

Download audio (right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 45: An Iranian Intellectual Visits Israel

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Samuel Thrope, Fellow, Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University

al-e ahmadAnyone following the news today could be forgiven for thinking that Iran and Israel were natural enemies and had been since the latter was established in 1948. But before Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, the two nations had a close unofficial relationship that extended beyond economic and commercial ties. In 1962, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, arguably the most influential Iranian writer of the twentieth century, visited Israel on an officially sponsored visit and published a travelogue of his experience.

Guest Samuel Thrope, a writer currently based in Jerusalem, has just translated Al-e Ahmad’s Safar beh Velayat-e Ezrael into English as The Israeli Republic, a fascinating look at a time when Iranian socialists looked at Israel as a possible model for what Iran could become—and how that vision soured after the 1967 Six Day War.

Download audio (right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 38: The International Energy Crisis of the 1970s

FLAG_POLICY_DURING_THE_1973_oil_crisisHost: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past and Professor, Department of History
Guest: Christopher R. W. Dietrich, Assistant Professor, History of U.S. Foreign Relations, Fordham University

Most Americans probably associate the 1973 oil crisis with long lines at their neighborhood gas stations, but those lines were caused by a complex patchwork of international relationships and negotiations that stretched around the globe.

Guest Chris Dietrich explains the origins of the energy crisis and the ways it shifted international relations in its wake.

Download audio (right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 18: Eugenics

Host: Joan Neuberger, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Philippa Levine, Professor; Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities; Co-Director British Studies Program

Harry H. Laughlin, The Second International Exhibition of Eugenics held September 22 to October 22, 1921, in connection with the Second International Congress of Eugenics in the American Museum of Natural History, New York (Baltimore: William & Wilkins Co., 1923).

Early in the twentieth century, governments all over the world thought they had found a rational, efficient, and scientific solution to the related problems of poverty, crime, and hereditary illness.  Scientists hoped they might be able to help societies control the social problems that arose from these phenomena. All over the world, the science-turned-social-policy known as eugenics became a base-line around which social services and welfare legislation were organized.

Philippa Levine, co-editor of a newly published book on the history of eugenics, explains the appeal and wide-reaching effects of the eugenics movement, which at its best inspired access to pre-natal care, access to clean water, and the eradication of harmful diseases, but at its worst led to compulsory sterilization laws, and the horrific experiments of the Nazi death camps.

Download audio (right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 8: America and the Beginnings of the Cold War

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Jeremi Suri, Professor of History and Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs (LBJ School of Public Affairs)

British Prime Minister Clement Atlee, President Harry Truman, Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in Potsdam, Germany, 1945.

The Cold War dominated international politics for four and a half decades from 1945-1989, and was defined by a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that threatened—literally—to destroy the world. How did two nations that had been allies during World War II turn on each other so completely? And how did the United States, which had been only a marginal player in world politics before the war, come to view itself as a superpower?

In this episode, historian Jeremi Suri discusses the beginnings of the Cold War (1945-1989) its origins in the “unfinished business” of World War II, the role of the development of atomic weapons and espionage, and the ways that it changed the United States in just five short years between 1945 and 1950.

Download audio (right click to save)

Continue reading