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37 minutes | Dec 13, 2018
This episode concludes season one of Ventricles Podcast. We continue our series on politics in the history of technology in this episode. Professor Gabriela Soto Laveaga explains the central role that Mexico played in the creation of the birth control pill, a history that has often been told about a few people in the US. From Ernesto Miramontes, a Mexican scientist whose name is on the patent for a compound used in the first oral contraceptives, to Syntex, the company co-founded by chemist Russell Marker in Mexico City, Mexico takes center stage in the history of oral contraceptives. But what about the hundreds of thousands of peasants in the South of Mexico, who dug up and even manipulated the barbasco roots from which steroid hormones were being synthesized? And are the dense jungles from which they found and dug up tons of these wild barbasco roots a laboratory? Professor Laveaga discusses how this industry revolutionized the lives of the peasants in this region, and how they in turn enabled and shaped the history of the pill. Audio credits: Thanks as always to The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music
25 minutes | Nov 7, 2018
How are technologies shaped by political needs, and how do technologies enable new kinds of politics? In this episode, Professor Eden Medina tells the history of communications technologies in Chile, during the socialist government of Salvador Allende, in the early 1970s. She explains how the innovative cybernetics systems, Project Cybersyn, was employed by the central government to communicate with people and officials across the country in an unprecedented way. Finally, we discuss how important this system seemed to Chileans in a time of political turmoil and what it came to represent - not only to the government, but to to the people of Chile. Eden Medina is associate professor of informatics and computing at Indiana University. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile and co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America. Audio credits: Thanks as always to The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music
20 minutes | Oct 25, 2018
Why is There a History of Medicine?
If the human body has remained the same in the past few thousand years, why have our approaches to its treatment varied so much? How can an ailment exist in only one part of the world, and not another? Why do so many treatments in the history of Western medicine seem bizarre to us now? This episode with Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama is about many interesting questions in the history of medicine. Audio credits: Thanks as always to The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music Image credit: Surgeon and student performing Bloodletting on a man's arm from Rolandus Parmensis, Chirurgia, c.1300, Rome, Bibl. Casanatense MS 1382 fol. 20r., Wellcome Collection
23 minutes | Oct 13, 2018
What will Iraq be like, 100 years in the future? How are Muslim women imagined in the future? In this episode, Professor Ahmed Ragab explores literary imaginaries of the future of the Middle East. He starts by discussing the story, Kahramana, from the recent short-story collection edited by Hassan Blasim, Iraq +100. He compares the story of Kahramana to the superhero, Dust from Marvel comics, to demonstrate how writers based in Iraq navigate and subvert the expectations of Western audiences. Audio credits: Thanks as always to The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music Image courtesy of Sara Alfaqeeh.
22 minutes | Oct 3, 2018
Canoes in Space
What can we learn about space exploration from Polynesian voyaging, or wayfinding? How does a frontier differ from a horizon? In this episode, Professor Eli Nelson explains the story of the Hokule‘a, a double-hulled voyaging canoe launched in 1975 to understand and recover the navigation techniques by which indigenous people found and settled the Pacific Islands. He touches on the various ways that people, from artists to authors of science fiction, have imagined voyaging canoes in the future, and in space. Audio credits: Thanks as always to The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music Images: Special thanks to Elizabeth LaPensée for letting us feature images of her work: Space Canoe, Returning, On Scrolls Carried by Canoe and Manoominike Mazinaanang Bibliography: Bio: Eli Nelson (Mohawk) is an assistant professor of American Studies at Williams College. He works on the history of Native science and Indigenous futurism and science fiction.
20 minutes | Sep 26, 2018
Coins, Medieval and Digital
What is money, and how is it changing? And what do bitcoins have in common with medieval coins? In this episode, Gili Vidan explains how the long history of coins can help us understand the history of digital currencies, something we perceive to be a radical break from the past. We start the episode with a discussion of the future - of one version of the future, science fiction - and what money is ideally imagined to be or not be. Audio credits: Special thanks to The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music; thanks to Gili Vidan, for being the first and perhaps only person to listen to all of Ventricles, season one, in a single day! Bio: Gili Vidan is a PhD Candidate in the Department of the History of Science and research fellow at the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at Harvard. Her work explores digital technologies, changing notions of public trust and democratic governance, and narratives of crisis and future-making in the US.
32 minutes | Sep 20, 2018
Vaidyas with Wristwatches
How do everyday technologies change our understanding of our own bodies? The pulse is a diagnostic tool common to many medical traditions, including Ayurveda, an ancient medicine of South Asia. In this episode, Professor Projit Mukharji tells us how the pulse has been understood by Ayurvedic practitioners (vaidyas) over time. He explains how pulse-taking changed when mechanical clocks, specifically the pocket watch and wristwatch, became a widespread technology in colonial India. Finally, this episode features a story by physician Dr. Melanie Baskind, and an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta, a practitioner of Ayurveda. Audio credits: Special thanks to the Yogahealer podcast, for letting us feature some of their episode on pulse diagnosis, and The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music
29 minutes | Sep 12, 2018
The body has many rhythms, but the pulse is one that people have paid close attention to. Over the last two millennia, the pulse has been used as a diagnostic tool in both Greek and Chinese medicine. In this episode, Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama discusses the history of the pulse in these two traditions. As he explains, the very conception of what the pulse is, how to sense it and what it can tell us about the body has changed over the course of its history. We also hear from Dr. Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim on how the Silk Road has facilitated historical connections between medical traditions in between Greece and China, and how Galen was known in medieval Tibet! Finally, we hear from physician Dr. Melanie Baskind about her training on the pulse in medical school. Audio credits: Special thanks to The Ottoman History Podcast for use of their episode “Medicine Along the Musk Route,” and The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music
34 minutes | Sep 6, 2018
How have humans kept track of time? What technologies have they developed to tell time, and how have they been influenced by religious and scientific cultures? In this episode, Dr. Sara Schechner, a historian of astronomy and an artist who has made sundials herself, speaks about the history of timekeeping, and how timekeeping technologies have shaped people’s sense of time. We also hear from Dr. Avner Wishnitzer about how some people’s sense of time changed with the introduction of modern institutions, creating new “temporal cultures.” Audio credits: Special thanks to Tom Roush for use of his song, “My Grandfather’s Clock”; to the Ottoman History Podcast for use of their episode “Time and Temporal Culture in the Ottoman Empire”; and The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music Image credit: thanks to the Center for Historical Scientific Instruments for this detail of an ivory diptych sundial, Joseph Ducher, Nuremberg, 1640-1644
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