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35 minutes | Apr 14, 2021
Season 2, Episode 6: Surviving Patriarchal Violence at Home: Incest Victims in the Progressive Era
Beatrice was fifteen years old when her mother died. By day, she assumed her mother’s role as the caregiver and housekeeper for her family in Chicago. By night, her father used her as a sexual substitute for his deceased wife. The rape and incest continued in secret for two years, until Beatrice appealed to the Chicago Municipal Court for protection in 1915. The court convicted Beatrice’s father of incest and sent him to prison. But what would they do with Beatrice? Grace Argo follows Beatrice’s story to show how incest victims’ trauma, survival strategies, and the ways they sought power or pleasure in the aftermath of abuse conflicted with reformers’ ideals and spelled their fate. Content warning: This episode discusses child sexual abuse, rape, and incest.
35 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Season 2, Episode 5: A Prison by Any Other Name: Imagining Childhood Criminality in 1920s Chicago
Michael sat in the intake room, waiting for his friend to arrive. He didn’t expect family to visit. By then, his mother had passed and he was estranged from his father. Without other visitors, he was eager to help his new friend, sociologist and criminologist Clifford Shaw. Shaw had taken an interest in the boys at the St. Charles School for Boys, and asked Michael to write down his life history sometime around 1930. Testimonials like Michael’s illuminate a complicated dynamic between children and authority figures, which plays out literally throughout the life history and in more subtle ways in the actual construction of the text. Allie Goodman follows Michael’s story to explore these dynamics. What were these children trying to say? How can we best listen? Content warning: This episode contains depictions of police violence.
35 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
Season 2, Episode 4: Mother Caravan: Disappearance and Resistance along the Migrant Trail
When disappearances along the migrant routes through Mexico skyrocketed in the 1990s and early 2000s, largely due to the domino effect set off after changes in regional border policy, mothers of the disappeared came together once again. What began as an expedition to locate their children, marching from embassies to migrant shelters to public markets with photographs of the missing, has now become a worldwide call to action, demanding that governments put an end to the international border regimes that disappear migrants and erase the evidence. Arielle Gordon explores a mass movement of mothers who—even in the face of police intimidation, faked corpses, corrupt authorities, and government lies—thrust the unseeable into sight.
35 minutes | Dec 18, 2020
Season 2, Episode 3: Envisioning Eternity: Women and Purgatory in the Seventeenth-Century Spanish World
In the seventeenth century, Spaniards understood Purgatory to be as much of a place—indeed one capable of being seen and even visited—as its newly established colonies in the New World. Otherworldly spaces like hell, purgatory, and limbo became part of a “colonizing imaginary,” a worldview that included the cartographic project of mapping and claiming places and peoples far beyond Iberian shores. Yet such projects have traditionally and historically been interpreted as the purview of men—missionaries, colonizers, and conquistadors who traveled across the Atlantic to participate in the entangled projects of conversion, colonization, and conquest. Hayley Bowman explores the ways in which women, too, contributed to this system of knowledge production. Female mystics envisioned and visited such places by spiritual means, wielding their own authority and contributing to how early modern Spaniards understood not just the afterlife, but their own position in the wider world and cosmos.
36 minutes | Nov 20, 2020
Season 2, Episode 2: The Unnatural Vice: King Henri III, Sodomy, and Modern Masculinity
On August 2, 1589, the King Henri III of France was assassinated. In a series of accusations that pointed to his policies, his pastimes, and his desires, they called Henri a sodomite. Sodomy accusations gesture towards the unchristian and unmanly comportment of the accused. And yet the content of sodomy accusations has changed much over the past millennium. By attending to the moments of congruence and divergence in these accusations, Aidyn Osgood explores how sexuality helps forge conceptions of masculinity. He also investigates how masculinity is a contingent cultural product created by people with political goals rather than a simple, natural outgrowth of human bodies. These ideas resonate powerfully today, when we find ourselves again considering the meanings of masculinity in popular culture.
35 minutes | Oct 28, 2020
Season 2, Episode 1: Revival and Reckoning: A Colonial Museum in Postcolonial Italy
This year marks the opening of Il Museo Italo Africano, “Ilaria Alpi” or the Iliaria Alpi Italo-African Museum in Rome, Italy. A revival of the former Italian Colonial museum (1923-1971), it has been renamed for its present-day reinstallation. Colonial museums and their collections are tangible representations of the historic and unequal relationships between people, communities, and nations. What does this particular museum and its collection tell us about Italy and its former African colonies? Timnet Gedar traces the history of this museum’s collection, including “human zoos,” in Italy and the looting of north and east African nations. This context demonstrates the role of museums in the colonial project and the power of knowledge production, raising questions about the implications of this history for the contemporary reopening of the museum. She asks us to consider the current Mediterranean migration crisis as a reflection of the ongoing, uneven power relations between Italy and its former African colonies and how past and present are linked, even in (or especially in) museums and their collections
24 minutes | Apr 24, 2020
Season 1, Episode 7: Archie Bunker for President!
Since Donald Trump stepped into the political spotlight, many have likened him to Archie Bunker, star character of the 1970s sitcom All in the Family. The comparisons were based on the crude demeanor, the vulgarity, and the racist and misogynistic views. The comparison seems apt. While the two men certainly shared some unfavorable characteristics, many of those who made the comparison focused on the apparent source for those characteristics—their shared hometown—Queens, New York. Daniela Sheinin hadn’t given much thought to the comparison, but when she found a kitschy drinking glass at an antique mall displaying an Archie For President graphic, she thought maybe this was something to contemplate. Instead of the president as Archie, we have Archie as the president. As she began to investigate the Bunker/Trump trope, one thing became clear. They may share a hometown, but they differ in their responses to the rapidly changing Queens neighborhoods that have come to define the borough. In this episode, we consider the many phases of Queens neighborhoods. They are marked by precisely that—fluidity and impermanence. In their transience, as the world moves onward, and the nation evolves, does progress leave something important behind? And to whom is this idea appealing? Where do Trump and Bunker fit now, in what is the most diverse region in the United States? These questions were some of the many topics covered when Daniela conducted oral history interviews during her dissertation research. Some are featured in this episode.
33 minutes | Apr 1, 2020
Season 1, Episode 6: Policing Gold: Law Enforcement in the Shadow of the LA Olympics
Los Angeles’s international reputation was on the line. As they prepared to host millions of visitors to the city for the 1984 Olympic Games, planners expressed their anxieties about one issue in particular—crime. To ensure a successful, safe event, planners opted for a massive display of police power. As athletes, spectators, and press from around the world arrived in the city, they would be watched. Federal, state, and local forces would collaborate to control the steady stream of people and to justify the added costs of anti-crime and anti-terrorism technologies. In hindsight, this was only a blip in the long history of law enforcement expansion in Los Angeles, and in the United States. Police using anxieties about terrorism goes back much farther than the successful Olympics bid. This had long been an effective strategy to obstruct political activism through the twentieth century. David Helps takes us from his discovery of confidential police records to audio footage of key actors in LA’s history of intrusive law enforcement, to on-the-ground policing, to the assault on US American civil liberties and the response from various activist groups. He illuminates the ongoing possible tensions between police departments, the technologies of surveillance they employ, and civilians. What are the police allowed to know about civilians, and what are their justifications for acquiring that information?
30 minutes | Feb 3, 2020
Season 1, Episode 5: Capacity Matters: Immigrant Prisons in the United States
Migrant detention at the US border is not new. While it’s become common in 2020 to hear of the incarceration of men, women, and children at the border attached to the current administration, these policies have been in development for the past 40 years. Over time we’ve seen the shifting legal, political and cultural definitions for people who arrive from Central America and Cuba. We’ve seen the transformation of the asylum seeker to criminal, begging the question: is “prison” a more suitable term? Alexander Stephens and Gerson Rosales didn’t expect for their research to align quite so closely. One works on the arrival of Cubans on the Mariel boatlift, the other on Salvadoran migration. But when they both stumbled across the same detention center in a surprising place, they sat down together to talk about these intertwined histories, from one small-town detention center to the largest system of immigrant prisons in the world.
20 minutes | Jan 7, 2020
Season 1, Episode 4: Archive Magic: Assembling History, One Clue at a Time
Matt Villeneuve details the simultaneous intrigue and frustration that comes from discovering an interesting source with minimal detail. He explains the winding path of constructing a story—from the mysterious nature of a single clue to the sometimes serendipitous breakthroughs of the archive. The clue was a note, tucked away in a digitized letter, referencing a 1969 illustration of an indigenous woman in protest. Equipped with questions about the US indigenous past, Villeneuve goes on the hunt for this illustration. From digital collections to libraries to social media, he makes connections over time to build a story. From an ambiguous note, the story transforms into one that considers the nature of art and protest in the history of schools as sites for the erasure of indigenous culture.
27 minutes | Nov 7, 2019
Season 1, Episode 3: Evidence of Absence: Lilli Segal, the KGB, and the AIDS Crisis
Since the 2016 election, use of the term “fake news” has skyrocketed: in media, in political rhetoric, and in the coffee shop or office kitchen. But its presence in the news is not new, nor is Russia’s involvement in the story. Dr. Johanna Folland takes us back into the lifecycle of a “fake news” story from the 1980s, before we referred to such things with that moniker. She tells the story of how a lie about one of the twentieth century's most critical health epidemics—HIV/AIDS—was used to push particular narratives for political gain during the Cold War. While the story includes major government actors, like the CIA and the KGB, we also learn the story of research scientist Lilli Segal and how disinformation spreads—and the real consequences thereof.
40 minutes | Nov 5, 2019
Season 1, Episode 2: Recording the Family: In Search of the Sonic Archive
Historians have long searched for the “voices” of the past, crafting stories past actors might have told from the records they leave behind. They sift through endless boxes of old letters, reports, memos, maps, photos, blueprints, and testimonies. But what are the chances the historian will hear the literal voice of a historical actor they study? Dr. J. Martin Vest pieces together the history of a family that, instead of writing letters, used nineteenth-century wax cylinder recordings to correspond across the country. In this often-obscured part of the history of recording, we learn how in the same way a family might settle into the parlor and listen to a popular music record, they might also record themselves at their most intimate moments, for an audience on a much smaller scale.
38 minutes | Nov 5, 2019
Season 1, Episode 1: Street Harassment, Then and Now
In what ways can a look be unsettling? Intimidating? Might it be dangerous? How does one study the history of an act so fleeting, and so difficult to record? PhD candidate Molly Brookfield studies the history of men's harassment of women in public places, in other words, street harassment. She’s interested in behaviors like catcalling or ogling, actions often considered trivial or even complimentary, rather than overtly violent or threatening. We’ll uncover the history of the more insidious behaviors men often perform in public space. Behaviors that leave no visible mark yet have the power to disrupt a woman’s daily life. But is this really a story of the past? We’ll consider the alarming persistence of such behaviors, and their transition into an accepted, sometimes even normal aspect of urban life.
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