Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin Guest: Lydia Pine, Research Affiliate, Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Over the last century, the search for human ancestors has spanned four continents and resulted in the discovery of hundreds of fossils. While most of these discoveries live quietly in museum collections, there are a few that have become world-renowned celebrity personas–ambassadors of science that speak to public audiences. But how does a fossil become a celebrity?
Lydia Pine, historian, author, and fellow of UT’s Institute for Historical Studies, has written a book about seven of the world’s most famous human fossils–appropriately titled Seven Skeletons. In this episode, she shares vivid examples of how human ancestors have been remembered, received, and immortalized.
Humanitarian intervention has become such an accepted part of international relations, and our news headlines are full of stories about humanitarian efforts from the Balkans in the 1990s to Syria today. But it wasn’t always the case – the concept of humanitarian intervention originates at a specific time and place, as today’s guest explains.
Brian McNeil specializes in history of United States foreign relations, and is currently revising his book manuscript titled, Frontiers of Need: the Nigerian Civil War and the Origins of American Humanitarian Intervention, the subject of this episode.
Thousands of years before recorded human history, anthropologists have traced the evolution of human society from a nomadic hunter-gatherer phase to the rise of agricultural practices, which allowed people to stay settled in one place, form complex societies, and ultimately early civilizations. This transition, it is said, was so momentous that it has become known as the Agricultural Revolution. A few decades ago, however, a scholar posited that humans lost leisure time in the process, becoming virtual slaves to their new agricultural lifestyles that required hours of maintenance daily. This counterargument declared that the Agricultural Revolution was nothing less than the greatest disaster to ever befall mankind.
Not so fast, says our guest this week. Rachel Laudan, a renowned food historian and author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History, argues that this thesis, which has found a champion in Jared Diamond’s best-selling Guns, Germs & Steel, fails to take food preparation into account. Our interview offers a different perspective and raises some new questions about the social impact of the beginnings of agriculture.
Part of the civilizing mission of European powers in their colonies in Asia and Africa was an interest in encouraging hygiene and health among the population, according to recently established medical practices in Europe. Diseases such as cholera and plague were often targeted, but in sub-Saharan Africa, British colonial officials were especially concerned with sexually transmitted diseases (or, rather, what were assumed to be sexually transmitted diseases), which allowed colonial officials to tackle both the disease as well as what was assumed to be the licentious behavior that led to its spread.
Guest Ben Weiss has been studying the history of public health in Africa from the colonial era through to the current HIV/AIDS epidemic, and discusses these earliest encounters between indigenous Africans and European medical practitioners.
Following World War II, a large part of the world was in the hands of European powers, established as colonies in the previous centuries. As one of the nations that came out on top of the geo-political situation, the United States was looked to with hope by aspiring nationalist movements, but also seen as a potential source by European allies in the war as a potential supporter of the move to restore the tarnished empires to their former glory. What’s a newly emerged world power to do?
Guest R. Joseph Parrott takes a look at the indecisive position the United States took on decolonization after helping liberate Europe from the threat of enslavement to fascism.
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.
In the late 15th century, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and conquered the Indian Ocean, bringing the rich trade under the direct control of the crowned heads of Europe and their appointed Indian Ocean Trading Companies. Or did he? Did Europe ever really come to dominate the 90,000 year old trade, or did it become just another in a series of actors competing for attention in an antique system of exchanges and commodities?
Guest Susan Douglass offers a nuanced view of the last five hundred years of European encounters with a deeply established international economy, makes the case that the remarkable story of this resource rich region isn’t over just yet.
Every American schoolchild knows that Columbus sailed west to reach Asia with the hope of finding precious metals, expensive fabrics, and exotic spices: all goods that were being traded in the Indian Ocean, and had been for millennia. Ancient Greek texts describe an active Indian Ocean economy. Some scholars have even linked the peopling of Australia to a slow, methodic collecting of resources along the coastal route from east Africa.
In the first of a two part episode guest Susan Douglass, author of the Indian Ocean in World History web site, describes the murky beginnings of trade and travel in the Indian Ocean basin, and the cultural exchanges and influences that the trade had in the days before the Europeans arrived.
With the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013, attention turned once again to the conditions that brought him international acclaim as the first black president of South Africa, and overseer of a process of national reconciliation that kept the country from falling into bloodshed. But what was the system of apartheid that he and millions of other South Africans had rallied against for so long? Where did it come from? How was it enforced? And what brought it to an end?
Guest Joseph Parrott helps us understand the system of “separateness” that dominated the lives of South Africans of all races for so long, and introduces us to the key organizations and players that fought against it and finally dismantled it.
Host:Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies Guest:Natalie Arsenault, Director of Public Engagement, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
The Atlantic slave trade was one of the most important examples of forced migration in human history. While slavery in the U.S. is well-documented, only ten percent of the slaves imported from Africa came to the United States; the other ninety per cent were disbursed throughout the Americas—nearly half went to Brazil alone. Where did they go? What did slavery look like in other parts of the New World? And what are the lingering effects on the modern world?
Guest Natalie Arsenault from UT’s Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies the oft-ignored impact of the slave trade on other parts of the Americas.
This episode provides an overview of the Scramble for Africa and how the 1885 Berlin Conference changed European colonialism on the continent. What did colonialism look like before 1885, and how did the Berlin Conference change the ways Europeans behaved? What did colonialism look like in various regions of the continent? And what are the lingering legacies of colonialism and de-colonization that continue to have an impact on contemporary Africa?
Guest Cacee Hoyer from UT’s Department of History helps explain the Scramble for Africa.