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ASHP Podcast

The American Social History Project · Center for Media and Learning is dedicated to renewing interest in history by challenging traditional ways that people learn about the past. Founded in 1981 and based at the City University of New York Graduate Center, ASHP/CML produces print, visual, and multimedia materials that explore the richly diverse social and cultural history of the United States. We also lead professional development seminars that help teachers to use the latest scholarship, technology, and active learning methods in their classrooms.

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Beyond Migrant workers: Mexican Communities & Complexities in The United States 1986-2016

Lori A. Flores,  Stony Brook UniversityCUNY Graduate Center, January 18, 2017Lori Flores, History Professor at Stony Brook University, contextualizes Mexican immigration and identity and examines how shifting borders complicate Mexican American identities. Flores covers the tumultuous relationship between Mexican immigrants and the United States Government from World War 1 into the present describing how during economic booms immigrants were welcomed and then quickly turned away during economic declines. Flores analyzes how the varied names associated with Mexican American immigrants illuminate the deep-rooted history of Mexicans in this country. This talk took place on January 18, 2017, as part of Reading Area Community College’s Conexiones Project in partnership with ASHP. ​

1hr 45mins

9 Apr 2018

Rank #1

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U.S. Mexican Borderlands, 1848-1941

María Montoya, New York UniversityCity University of New York, April 25, 2014In this talk, Professor Montoya examines the history of the U.S.-Mexican border, and its role in shaping the national memory and identity of both countries.  Notions of Mexican American citizenship and property rights are entwined with this history, and have shifted over time.  To understand these transformations, Montoya chronicles the history, perception, and significance of the U.S.-Mexican border from 1848 to 1941 to explore its transition from a shared, fluid site to a symbol of exclusion and militarization.


16 Apr 2015

Rank #2

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Setting the Stage: Reconstruction

Gregory Downs, UC DavisCUNY Graduate Center, July 19, 2016In this talk, Gregory Down provides historical context for viewing U.S. slavery in a global context and presents the complexities of reconstruction efforts to create a unified United States after the Civil War. Down focuses on the passage of new constitutional amendments, General Grant’s presidency, and the transition of political power in 1877. This talk took place on July 19, 2016, as part of ASHP’s Visual Culture of the Civil War Summer Institute, an NEH professional development program for college and university faculty.


24 Aug 2017

Rank #3

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NAFTA and Narcos: How Free Trade Brought You the Drug Trade

Maria Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, New York UniversityCUNY Graduate Center, October 24, 2014In this lecture, Professor Saldaña-Portillo addresses the multiple ways in which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has affected the price of labor, increased narco-terrorism, and facilitated the transfer of drugs from Latin America to the United States, as well as the laundering of funds by drug traffickers in the United States and Mexico.  She situates these processes within the parallel language used to describe Islamic terrorism and the vilified image of the "Indio-barbaro del Norte," a term used in the 19th century to refer to Apache enemies of the United States and Mexico.


13 Apr 2015

Rank #4

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Josh Freeman: Teaching the New Deal

Joshua Freeman, Murphy Institute for Labor Studies, City University of New YorkCUNY Graduate Center, March 7, 2013In this 45 minute talk, historian Josh Freeman describes how the New Deal expanded and fundamentally changed the role of government in American life, and why the Great Depression triggered such profound change when previous economic crises hadn’t. He also discusses the relationship between Labor and the New Deal, and how many New Deal programs excluded large numbers of female and non-white workers.


23 Apr 2013

Rank #5

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Cynthia Mills: Civil War Monuments

Cynthia Mills, The Smithsonian American Art MuseumCUNY Graduate CenterJuly 19, 2012In this forty-five minute talk, Cynthia Mills (1947-2014) the former executive editor of American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and co-editor of Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscape of Southern Memory traces the arc of Civil War commemorative public sculptures, describes the similarities and differences between Northern and Southern monuments, and discusses the continued interest in and uses of these public monuments. This talk was part of The Visual Culture of the American Civil War, a 2012 NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers.


14 Jan 2013

Rank #6

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Monuments As: History, Art, Power

In this four-speaker panel, professors, artists, and activists delve into the ongoing re-evaluation of public monuments and memorials, particularly those in New York City (NYC). Dr. Harriet Senie, professor of art history at The Graduate Center CUNY, offers insights into the decision making process of the 2017 Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, an initiative convened to advise NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio about controversial monuments and markers on city-owned land.  Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, professor of history at Queens College CUNY, details the work of J. Marion Sims, who developed gynecological procedures by practicing on the bodies of enslaved black women.  Marina Ortiz, activist and founder of East Harlem Preservation, discusses the decades-long fight to remove an East Harlem statue of Sims.  Francheska Alcantara, artist and activist, explores the ways in which art can and should engage social protest.  This panel took place on June 13, 2018, as the first program in the series “Difficult Histories/Public Spaces: The Challenge of Monuments in New York City and the Nation,” sponsored by the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, The Gotham Center for New York City History, and the CUNY Public History Collective.  The series is supported by a grant from Humanities New York and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

1hr 25mins

7 Nov 2018

Rank #7

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Conceptualizing Latino/a History

CUNY Graduate Center October 18, 2013In this panel discussion, Pablo Mitchell, Professor of History, Oberlin College; Virginia Sánchez Korrol, Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College; and Andrés Reséndez, Professor of History, University of California, Davis deliberate on ways to incorporate Latino/a histories into Anglo American history, often portrayed as distinct narratives. The scholars discuss the tools they use in the classroom to expand students’ understanding of what it means to be American. This discussion was moderated by María Montoya, New York University, and Lisandro Pérez, John Jay College.


8 Oct 2014

Rank #8

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Reconstruction Political Cartoons Published in News and Humor Publications

Richard Samuel West, founder of New England's PeriodysseyCUNY Graduate Center, July 20, 2016In this presentation, Richard Samuel West analyzes political cartoons of the reconstruction era utilizing Thomas Nast’s Harper Weekly pieces as a timeline. West focuses on Southern Sentiment and Nast’s sharp criticism of it, presenting cartoons on Johnson’s presidency, Grant’s oppositional stance, and images of the KKK and White League. This talk took place on July 19, 2016, as part of ASHP’s Visual Culture of the Civil War Summer Institute, an NEH professional development program for college and university faculty.

1hr 32mins

22 Aug 2017

Rank #9

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Karl Jacoby: The Contest for the Continent

Karl Jacoby, Columbia UniversityCUNY Graduate CenterMay 7, 2013In this 35 minute talk, historian Karl Jacoby complicates the story of the history of North America by presenting the history of the Plains Indians through the perspective of multiple revolutions in the late eighteenth century: the expansion of the Spanish empire along the west coast and resistance by native peoples; the U.S. revolution that resulted in westward expansion; the formation of the Ohio Confederacy by Midwestern Indian tribes; and the resurgence of the horse on the Great Plains.


9 Sep 2013

Rank #10

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Latin@s en Nueva York: Exiles & Citizens—Revolutionaries, Reformers & Writers, 1823-1940

Orlando Hernandez, Hostos Community ColllegeCUNY Graduate Center, December 6, 2013In this talk, Professor Hernández interprets texts from Puerto Rican educator and sociologist Eugenio María de Hostos as well as the Cuban poet and scholar José Martí.  He describes the work of both writers as humanistic and cooperative, and situates both the writers and their work within the context of their influence on politics, history, and literature.


30 Jan 2015

Rank #11

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Cuban Immigration to the United States

Lisandro Pérez, John Jay CollegeCUNY Graduate Center, February 7, 2014In this lecture, Lisandro Pérez unpacks the long, distinct, and prolific history of Cuban Americans and their history’s close correlation with U.S. foreign and domestic policy. He uses census materials, forms, archives, city directories, naturalization records, vital records, newspapers, and magazines spanning over 200 years to reconstruct the Cuban community politically and socially in New York City, and explains the reasons for the “Cuban exception.” This talk took place at the CUNY Graduate Center on February 7, 2014.

1hr 10mins

13 Apr 2015

Rank #12

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Beyond Cardboard Conquistadores and Missionaries: The First Europeans in the New World

Andrés Reséndez, University of California – DavisCUNY Graduate Center, October 18, 2013In this talk, Professor Reséndez expands the traditional conception of America’s colonial past and paints a richer, more historically accurate picture of the Europeans who settled in the New World.  The “Spanish Conquistadores” were not all Spanish, all male, and all funded by the king, but were actually cosmopolitan, international professionals, often funded by private entrepeneurs who came as settlers rather than conquerors. Missionaries were not simply “good Padres” carrying the message of Christ, but rather had their own strategic plans rooted in self-promotion. Reséndez presents the new world in the colonial era as part of an increasingly international, interdependent environment of global commerce.


18 Nov 2014

Rank #13

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Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology

Deirdre Cooper Owens, Queens College CUNY Graduate Center, February 14, 2018Deirdre Cooper Owens reads a section from her recent work, Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology, which explores the intersections of slavery, capitalism, and medicine and discusses the work with Jennifer Morgan, Professor of History New York University  and Sasha Turner Bryson, Professor of History at Quinnipiac University. Owen’s study draws from the journals of doctors like James Marion Sims and examines the labor enslaved women performed as they endured medical experimentation and assisted doctors in developing careers in gynecology. This talk took place on February 14, 2018, sponsored by Center for the Study of Women and Society and co-sponsored with the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), the CUNY Graduate Center Ph.D. Program in History, and the Feminist Press.

1hr 22mins

8 Mar 2018

Rank #14

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Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World

Joshua Freeman, ASHPThe Graduate Center, CUNYFebruary 26, 2018Joshua Freeman, professor of history at CUNY Graduate Center and Queens College and Steven Greenhouse, former labor reporter for the New York Times, discuss Freeman's recent book,  Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World. From the origins of factories in the 1720s England through the current state of mega-factories like Foxconn, the conversation covers the rise and fall of factories across the world and the societal consequences that came with each transition.  This conversation took place on February 26, 2018, at the CUNY Graduate Center sponsored by the Ph.D. Program in History and the Advanced Research Collaborative.

1hr 9mins

15 Mar 2018

Rank #15

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Visualizing Emancipation and the Postwar South in the Popular and Fine Arts

Sarah Burns, Indiana UniversityCUNY Graduate Center, July 19, 2016In this discussion, Sarah Burns examines common Civil War narratives in fine arts in this period by examining the work of artists such as William Walker, Thomas Waterman, and Winslow Homer. Burns asks who created the pieces and for what audience and further questioning the works by examining portraits showing a different narrative of African Americans. Ultimately concluding that these works are a contention between white construction and black agency. This talk took place on July 19, 2016, as part of ASHP’s Visual Culture of the Civil War Summer Institute, an NEH professional development program for college and university faculty.

1hr 32mins

22 Aug 2017

Rank #16

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Something Old and Something New: The Not So Recent Phenomenon of Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Migration

Isabel Martinez, John Jay CollegeCUNY Graduate Center, October 24, 2014In this presentation, Isabel Martinez places the recent experiences of unaccompanied minors migrating from Central America to the United States in a historical context, describing her family’s own youth migration story which begins in Mexico, 1902. She goes on to explore some of the reasons for the recent surge in Latin American youth migration, including increased poverty, violence, and economic instability associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, the United States’ “crimigration” policies, and the kinds of media attention these groups of young people receive. Professor Martinez discusses the many dangers they confront, detailing the experiences of unaccompanied children as young as seven years old, as well as the challenges of being apprehended and the risks of going undetected. She then presents several strategies for teaching this material to students.


14 Apr 2015

Rank #17

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Alice Fahs: Visual Landscape of the Civil War Era

Alice Fahs, professor of history at the University of California, Irvine, presents a broad range of images that made up the visual landscape of the 1860s and explores how the Civil War did and did not transform the dominant images especially for African Americans and women. This talk took place on July 9, 2012, as part of The Visual Culture of the American Civil War, an NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers.

1hr 1min

30 Oct 2015

Rank #18

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Bodies in Ruins

Megan Kate Nelson, Author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War CUNY Graduate Center, July 15, 2016In this talk, Megan Kate Nelson discusses the proliferation of photographs that focus on ruins and war-torn bodies in 1864/1865, at the end of the civil war. Nelson looks at photos taken by union photographers and the narratives created with these photos. By examining the historical context of the photographs, Nelson argues that photography can be as ambiguous as other forms of wartime narratives. This talk took place on July 15, 2016, as part of ASHP’s Visual Culture of the Civil War Summer Institute, an NEH professional development program for college and university faculty.

1hr 23mins

22 Aug 2017

Rank #19

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Peter H. Wood: Blacks in the Civil War through the Eyes of Winslow Homer

Peter H. Wood, Duke UniversityNewark MuseumJuly 12, 2012Peter Wood, emeritus professor of history at Duke University, discusses the career of Winslow Homer and his portrayals of African Americans during the Civil War. While many of Homer’s drawings and paintings appear nonpolitical, Wood argues that his training at Harper’s Weekly as a news illustrator prepared him for presenting current political debates in subtle ways. This fifty-minute talk took place on July 12, 2012 at the Newark Museum as part of The Visual Culture of the American Civil War, a 2012 NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers.


12 Mar 2013

Rank #20