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History Talk

Smart conversations about today’s most interesting topics - a history podcast for everyone.

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The Syrian Civil War: Alawites, Women's Rights, and the Arab Spring

Co-hosts Leticia Wiggins and Patrick Potyondy interviewed guests Ayse Baltacioglu-Brammer and Patrick Scharfe on the the civil war in Syria, which continues to dominate headlines across the globe. As negotiations and fighting continue, Leticia and Patrick spoke with the two historians of the Middle East to explore the nation’s diversity, the role of women in the Arab Spring, intervention, and the way forward.For more on Syria, see Origins’ two articles, “Syria's Islamic Movement and the 2011-12 Uprising” and “Alawites and the Fate of Syria”(Image Source)Posted January 2014[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]


30 Jan 2014

Rank #1

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North Korea: The Myth of a Hermit Kingdom

In this episode of History Talk, hosts Brenna Miller and Jessica Blissit speak with three experts on North Korea: Deborah Solomon, Mitchell Lerner, and Youngbae Hwang. Westerners tend to think of North Korea as an isolated "Hermit Kingdom" led by crazy dictators, but what is the view from inside Pyongyang? Join us as we discuss when and how North Korea got its nickname, debate its accuracy, and find out what's shaping North Korea's decisions. (Image Source)Posted December 2016


15 Dec 2016

Rank #2

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Hong Kong and China: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

In early June 2019, residents of Hong Kong took to the streets to protest proposed legislation by the Hong Kong government that would enable extradition from the city to mainland China. Over the ensuing months, heavy-handed tactics by the police only swelled the movement, which has grown to involve over a million residents of Hong Kong. The demonstrators' demands have also expanded to encompass an investigation into police brutality, the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the establishment of free democratic elections in the city.Although the extradition bill itself has been withdrawn, protests seem certain to continue. For many Hong Kongers, the proposed legislation was merely the latest attempt by Beijing to undermine the unique "one country, two systems" status under which the city enjoys a large decree of economic and legal autonomy. What’s at stake in this standoff between protesters, Hong Kong’s government, and Beijing? How did Hong Kong’s autonomy come about in the first place, and how might it be at risk? On this month's episode of History Talk, host Lauren Henry discusses this pivotal moment in Hong Kong's history with two experts on modern China: Dr. Denise Y. Ho and Melvin Barnes Jr.To learn more about the history of Hong Kong and China, read our feature article, Hong Kong in Protest, by Melvin Barnes Jr. Be sure to check our other coverage of the region: Remembering Tiananmen: The View from Hong Kong, The United States, China, and the Money Question, China Dreams and the “Road to Revival”, and Modern China and Its Institutions.Professor Ho has also published her own analysis of the protests in Hong Kong: Summer of protest: Are we witnessing a turning point in Hong Kong politics?(Image Source)Posted September 2019[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]


11 Sep 2019

Rank #3

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From Poll Taxes to Partisan Gerrymandering: Voter Disenfranchisement in the United States

Voting is perhaps the most fundamental act of democratic citizenship. In a democracy, our political leaders receive their mandate, and the system itself derives its legitimacy, from the people who elect them. In the United States, however, the right to vote has never been extended universally. Although the franchise has expanded to include many more citizens since 1776, these gains have come haltingly and unevenly. Even as women gained suffrage, African Americans were kept from the polls in many parts of the country for decades. And elected officials have long meddled with district boundaries to choose their constituents, rather than the other way around.This month, hosts Lauren Henry and Eric Michael Rhodes speak with two experts on voter disenfranchisement in the United States—Professors Daniel P. Tokaji and Pippa Holloway—to consider the past and present of voting rights. How does historical voter suppression continue to affect electoral outcomes today? Listen in to find out.To learn more about the history of voting, check out these Origins features: A History of Stolen Citizenship; Re-mapping American Politics: The Redistricting Revolution Fifty Years Later(Image Source)-Posted July 2019[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]


30 Jul 2019

Rank #4

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The Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ Rights

The rapid shift in attitudes toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been one of the most dramatic cultural transformations in recent memory. But with these changes have come many questions and tensions. Is the focus on the politics of marriage limiting to broader rights movement? How have popular representations like those in Modern Family, crime procedurals, or even Levi’s jeans commercials changed the public’s perceptions, and has it always been for the better? How has the study and teaching of gay and lesbian history changed? What is the relationship between sexuality and neighborhood transformation (often termed “gentrification”)? In this month’s episode of History Talk there’s something for everyone as hosts Patrick Potyondy and Leticia Wiggins discuss the historical background behind the news headlines with three experts: Daniel Rivers and Clayton Howard are two Ohio State history professors, and J. Brendan Shaw is a doctoral candidate in the Ohio State University English department.(Image Source)Posted July 2014


25 Jul 2014

Rank #5

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Nuclear Tensions, Nuclear Weapons, and a Long History of Nuclear War

In the last year, tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, a false nuclear missile alert in Hawaii, and debates over the Iran nuclear deal have renewed public attention to the development of nuclear weapons and armament and the potential for war. But from the Cold War, to the Cuban Missile Crisis, to Chinese nuclear tests in the 1960s, the U.S. and the world have frequently faced these fears, and attempted to place particular countries’ access to nuclear weapons technology under international control. So how concerned should we be about nuclear weapons and who has them? How did the U.S. become so central in efforts to control them? And how can past attempts to limit nuclear proliferation inform how we address these questions today? On this episode of History Talk, hosts Brenna Miller and Jessica Viñas-Nelson speak with experts Christopher Gelpi, Dakota Rudesill, and Matt Ambrose to discuss the history of nuclear armament and control.For more on this topic, see:Johnathan Hunt - "Learning to Love the Nuclear Pariah: From China to North Korea"Dakota Rudesill - "MIRVs Matter: Banning Hydra-Headed Missiles in a New START II Treaty," Stanford Journal of International Law Vol. 54, 2018Matt Ambrose - The Control Agenda: A History of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, Cornell University Press, 2018 (Image Source)Posted June 2018


30 Jun 2018

Rank #6

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The Politics of International Sport

Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in front of Adolf Hitler in 1936 Berlin. The 1942 Dynamo Kyiv soccer team which went on to defeat Hitler’s squad after being told, “If you win, you die.” Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising gloved hands in the Black Power salute in 1968. Gay rights and Vladimir Putin’s Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The role of sport in dismantling South Africa’s apartheid regime and the 2010 World Cup in putting the nation on display on the global stage. And coming up, Brazil: about to host to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and home to tumultuous popular demonstrations. Politics and international sports seem to go hand-in-hand, but why? Join History Talk hosts Leticia Wiggins and Patrick Potyondy as they discuss the historical dimensions of this contentious topic with experts Russell Field, Marc Horger, and Steven Conn.(Image Source)Posted May 2014


21 May 2014

Rank #7

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The EU: Past, Present, and Future

On this episode of History Talk, Patrick and Mark sit down with Donald Hempson,  Lauren Henry, and Chris Otter to discuss the history of the European Union, an organization that has united Europeans in ways that were almost unthinkable a century ago. Today, the EU faces an unprecedented combination of challenges, including a lingering economic crisis, a massive influx of migrants, and the specter of terrorism.  But as our guests tell us, the EU has proven to be surprisingly resilient and adaptable, constantly reinventing itself in the face of sweeping historic changes.(Image Source)Posted March 2016


5 Apr 2016

Rank #8

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From Romanovs to Reds: Russia's Revolutions at 100

In February 1917, the 300-year reign of the Romanov dynasty ended. Eight months later in October, Bolshevik forces led by Vladimir Lenin seized power, establishing the world's first state operated on Marxist principles. In the aftermath, a myriad of political, economic, social, and cultural changes reshaped life inside Russia as the establishment of the Soviet Union upended the global order. To mark the 100-year anniversary of the Russian Revolutions, hosts Brenna Miller and Jessica Viñas-Nelson interview expert guests Drs. Angela Brintlinger, Nicholas Breyfogle, and Stephen Norris. Join us to explore the causes of the Russian Revolutions, their profound consequences, and how the world is remembering their centennial anniversary today.(Image Source)Posted October 2017[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]


12 Oct 2017

Rank #9

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Jefferson Cowie on Deindustrialization, Trade, and the 2016 Presidential Election

On this episode of History Talk, host Patrick Potyondy interviews Jefferson Cowie, the James G. Stahlman Chair in the Department of History at Vanderbilt University. Cowie has written extensively on American economic, racial, cultural, and political history, and is the author most recently of The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics. In this interview, Cowie helps make sense of the 2016 presidential election by discussing the connections between the collapse of the New Deal exception, populism as the primary driving force of change in American politics, immigration as a key political pivot, the long-term movement of manufacturing jobs from place to place, and international trade like NAFTA and the TPP. He also explains why today's political climate looks a lot like the 1970s, not only in the electoral arena but in pop culture, too.(Image Source)Posted September 2016


18 Sep 2016

Rank #10

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Beyond the Veil: Women in the Mideast and North Africa

On this episode of History Talk, guests Johanna Sellman, Gulsah Toronoglu, and Sabra Webber discuss the diverse and dynamic history of women in the Middle East and North Africa. Highlighting the region's great range of historical experiences, they question the idea that women's rights marks a divide between Islamic societies and the "West," explore the history of women's movements, and address the ways in which the flourishing of new media is transforming political and artistic expression throughout the Islamic world.(Image Source)Posted July 2016


22 Jul 2016

Rank #11

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Classics and the Alt-Right Conundrum

Existential fears of “losing” what is seen as “Western Civilization” have animated many within what is considered the alt-right. However, the valorization of “western civilization” is often rooted in romanticized notions of ancient Greece and Rome, which alt-right groups have appropriated and promoted in recent propaganda. Why and how do nationalists in Europe and the U.S. draw contemporary connections to ancient Greece and Rome? What are the consequences of this for our understandings of the ancient era? And what should scholars in the Classics and History do about it? On this episode of History Talk, hosts Jessica Viñas-Nelson and Brenna Miller speak with three classists to discuss the alt-right’s appropriation of classical history: Denise Eileen McCoskey, Donna Zuckerberg, and Curtis Dozier.For more on this topic, see:Denise Eileen McCoskey - "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts: How Neo-Nazis and Ancient Greeks Met in Charlottesville"Curtis Dozier - Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics and The Mirror of Antiquity PodcastDonna Zuckerberg - How to Be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor(Image Source)Posted September 2018


22 Jul 2018

Rank #12

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Russia and the World

In recent years, Russia has gained prominence on the world stage. From hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, to regional interventions, to allegations of interference in foreign elections, the country's international activities suggest that its leadership is on a mission to shape world affairs. But what exactly does Russia want? And how does this compare to its ambitions in the past? In this episode of History Talk, hosts Jessica Blissit and Brenna Miller talk to two experts—Stephen Norris and Gerry Hudson—about the Russian perspective on world affairs and the role that power, prestige, and influence play in shaping the country's foreign objectives.(Image Source)Posted June 2017


16 Jun 2017

Rank #13

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The Sixth Extinction and Our Unraveling World

As the effects of climate change, toxic pollution, and over-exploitation of resources increasingly dominate the news, there may be an even larger threat on the horizon. By the end of this century, scientists are warning that nearly 25-50% of all species on earth could be lost, in what they are calling a "sixth extinction." Are humans on the cusp of a global extinction event of our own making? And if so, what will this mean for humanity and what can we do about it? Listen in as hosts Jessica Viñas-Nelson and Brenna Miller take a long view of environmental history with two esteemed guests, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert and historian Sam White. Learn more about how human actions have reshaped ecosystems in the past, their consequences for animal and plant diversity, and what this may mean for the future of life on earth.(Image Source)Posted September 2017


18 Sep 2017

Rank #14

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Sudan: Popular Protests, Today and Yesterday

In April 2019, four months of sustained protests throughout Sudan culminated in the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since taking office in a 1989 military coup. Originally a response to the spiraling cost of living, demonstrators soon widened their criticisms to encompass the full impact of Bashir’s three decades in power: brutal political repression, economic stagnation, and civil war in the country’s west and south. In the end, the huge crowds who took to the streets of Khartoum and other cities (including a significant proportion of women) crystallized their demands in a simple chant, directed at Bashir: “Just fall — that’s all.”International observers have suggested that the uprising in Sudan represents a second “Arab Spring.” Yet perhaps more important is the long history of popular protest within Sudan, which have twice in the past toppled autocratic governments. As protestors continue to defy the military government and demand the establishment of civilian rule, understanding Sudan’s past is key to any attempt to predict its future.Join us in this month’s History Talk podcast, as your hosts Lauren Henry and Eric Michael Rhodes discuss this pivotal moment for Sudan with two experts on Sudanese history and politics: Ahmad Sikainga and Kim Searcy.To learn more about the history of Sudan, read our feature article, Who Owns the Nile? Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s History-Changing Dam. Be sure to check our other coverage of the region: All Politics is Local: Understanding Boko Haram, Searching for Wakanda: The African Roots of the Black Panther Story, and our recent episode, Who Owns the Past? Museums and Cultural Heritage Repatriation.(Image Source)-Posted May 2019[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]


31 May 2019

Rank #15

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Legacies of the Great War

This month marks the 100-year anniversary of U.S. entry into World War I. But, as the world commemorates the centennial of the war, U.S. events have been few and far between. Why is the war remembered so differently in Europe versus the United States, and what legacies might we be forgetting? In this episode of History Talk, we speak to three experts—Jennifer Siegel, Aaron Retish, and Julie Powell—about the war that shaped the course of the 20th century. Join us to learn why World War I is remembered so differently in combatant countries, what the war's most important geopolitical and human impacts were, and how its legacies continue to affect us today.(Image Source)Posted December 2017


10 Dec 2017

Rank #16

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Pandemics: Past, Present, Future

From Plague to Influenza and HIV, learn about the history of global pandemics in order to better understand the current coronavirus pandemic, a panel discussion with John Brooke, Jim Harris, Thomas McDow, Erin Moore, and Kristina Sessa.(Image Source)Posted May 2020[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]This content is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this content do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


13 May 2020

Rank #17

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Mental Health and American Society

Recent mass shootings have turned American attention to the nation’s mental health system, its perceived failings, and it's potential to stem the tide of mass violence. However, Americans have a long history of pointing to mental illness as a panacea for solving social problems and an equally lengthy history of criticizing the treatment of those considered mentally ill. On this episode of History Talk, hosts Jessica Viñas-Nelson and Brenna Miller speak with two experts, Dr. Susan Lawrence and Zeb Larson, to discuss the history of mental health in the U.S. and the realities of providing meaningful care.(Image Source)Posted March 2018


28 Mar 2018

Rank #18

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The Equal Rights Amendment: Then and Now

In March 2017 Nevada became the first state in 40 years to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment—a provision written to address discrimination on the basis of sex. Now, in an atmosphere of renewed national attention on issues affecting women, this proposed amendment could be just two states short of addition to the United States Constitution. Explore the long history of the ERA with hosts Jessica Blissit and Brenna Miller as they speak with three historians: Kimberly Hamlin, Susan Hartmann, and Katherine Marino. Find out why it stalled and how for nearly a century the ERA has garnered both passionate supporters and ardent opponents.(Image Source)Posted April 2017


27 Mar 2017

Rank #19

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Shifting Borders: The Many Sides of U.S.-Mexican Relations

Long before the recent initiatives to strengthen the border wall with Mexico and contentious debates surrounding immigration and deportation, the U.S. and Mexico have had a tangled history of both animosity and cooperation. From the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War to the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, what can history tell us about the current state of affairs and prospects for the future between the U.S. and Mexico? Join us as hosts Brenna Miller and Jessica Blissit discuss U.S.-Mexican relations with three experts: Dr. Elena Albarran, Dr. Mathew Coleman, and Dr. Lilia Fernandez.(Image Source)Posted July 2017


19 Jul 2017

Rank #20