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When scholars analyse Thai politics, they tend to give importance to institutions like the monarchy, the military, the parliament, and political parties; or, political ideas like ‘royalist nationalism’ or democracy. But what if the real driver of Thai politics was none of these things, but instead, political families? Yoshinori Nishizaki examines t…
 
Jews and Christians alike have made Psalm 91 one of the most commonly used and cited parts of the Bible. For over two thousand years, the psalm has played a pivotal role in discussions of theology and politics, of medicine and mysticism. In He Will Save You from the Deadly Pestilence: The Many Lives of Psalm 91 (Oxford UP, 2022), acclaimed religion…
 
The Internet plays a central role in how we communicate, share information, disseminate ideas, maintain social connections, and conduct business. The Internet also exacerbates existing problems regarding irrationality, bias, wrongful discrimination, exploitation, and dehumanization. Moreover, the Internet gives rise to new ethical and epistemologic…
 
Aline B. Louchheim (1914-1972) was an art critic on assignment for the New York Times in 1953 when she first met the Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. She would become his wife and the driving force behind his rise to critical prominence. When Eero Met His Match: Aline Louchheim Saarinen and the Making of an Architect (Princeton UP, 2022) d…
 
I grew up with Alexandra David-Neel’s books on my mum’s bookshelf. She was part of the myth making process that led to my own fascination with Tibet, as something real, and as fantasy, a description that is often used to define Neel’s relationship and presentation of Tibet. She was either a key that helped open the door into the world of Tibet with…
 
Despite the seeming supremacy of car culture in the United States, the train has long been and continues to be a potent symbol of American exceptionalism, ingenuity, and vastness. For almost two centuries, the train has served as the literal and symbolic vehicle for American national identity, manifest destiny, and imperial ambitions. It’s no surpr…
 
On this episode, we sit down with Dr. Susan R. Grayzel, Professor of History at Utah State University to discuss The Age of the Gas Mask: How British Civilians Faced the Terrors of Total War (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Professor Grayzel compellingly and skillfully explores the history of one object - the civilian gas mask - to reveal the re…
 
Helmi's Shadow: A Journey of Survival from Russia to East Asia to the American West (U Nevada Press, 2021) tells the sweeping true story of two Russian Jewish refugees, a mother (Rachel Koskin) and her daughter (Helmi). With determination and courage, they survived decades of hardship in the hidden corners of war-torn Asia and then journeyed across…
 
What does it mean to design democratic cities and democratic citizens in a time of mass urbanization and volatile political transformation? Citizen Designs: City-Making and Democracy in Northeastern Thailand (U Hawaii Press, 2021) addresses this question by exploring the ways that democratic urban planning projects intersect with emerging political…
 
Why laws focused on data cannot effectively protect people—and how an approach centered on human rights offers the best hope for preserving human dignity and autonomy in a cyberphysical world. Ever-pervasive technology poses a clear and present danger to human dignity and autonomy, as many have pointed out. And yet, for the past fifty years, we hav…
 
Earl "Trey" Singleton III arrives in New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, at 17, he is ready to leave his overbearing parents and their expectations behind. In the city, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that changes his life forever. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for A…
 
With the annexation of Crimea in 2014 as well the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia's place in the world is a matter of fierce debate among world leaders and analysts. For decades it was regarded as irrelevant since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Vladimir Putin came to power with the intent of improving Russian influence on the world stage…
 
Susan Johnston Taylor dreamed of writing since the age of nine, when she won a magazine contest. In our interview we celebrate the launch of her picture book, Animals in Surprising Shades: Poems about Earth’s Colorful Creatures (Gnome Road Publishing, 2023). Her book is composed of poems (each in a different style), each about a colorful animal. As…
 
Rose Parfitt is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Kent and the author of The Process of International Legal Reproduction: Inequality, Historiography, Resistance (Cambridge University Press, 2019). That all states are free and equal under international law is axiomatic to the discipline. Yet even a brief look at the dynamics of the inter…
 
Ioannis Gaitanidis' book Spirituality and Alternativity in Contemporary Japan: Beyond Religion? (Bloomsbury, 2022) critically examines the spirituality phenomenon in contemporary Japan by looking at the main actors involved in the discourse: spiritual therapists as practitioners, scholars of spirituality studies, and the people in the publishing in…
 
Under the Banner of King Death: Pirates of the Atlantic, A Graphic Novel (Beacon Press, 2023) is a comic adaptation of Rediker’s now classic 2004 Villains of all Nation: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, one of the foundational texts in serious pirate studies. David Leter’s art offers a graphic exploration of action, resistance, and radicalism am…
 
Bill McClay is the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. He joins the show to discuss Land of Hope, the state of the history profession, nationalism, the New York Times' 1619 Project, and more. Bill McClay's interview with …
 
Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003) brings two Americans together in Tokyo, each experiencing a personal crisis. In this close look at Coppola’s multi-award-winning film, Suzanne Ferriss’s book, Lost in Translation (British Film Institute, 2023), uses the film’s travel theme as a structuring device to detail the complexities of filming the 2…
 
Between 1956 and 1960, leaders in the Mongolian People’s Republic embarked on a collectivization campaign to change the way in which Mongolians interacted with animals and the environment. Collectivization in Mongolia, which followed the Soviet model, confiscated private livestock to create collectively-owned and -worked livestock herds, and was se…
 
What does climate change adaptation look like in Bangladesh? And what kind of gendered social landscape does climate change adaptation have to navigate in Bangladesh? Bangladesh is among the countries most at risk from the negative consequences, and often spoken of as ground zero of climate change. In recent years, more attention has been devoted t…
 
Colleen Lye and Christopher Nealon's edited volume After Marx: Literature, Theory, and Value in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge UP, 2022) demonstrates the importance of Marxist literary and cultural criticism for an era of intersectional politics and economic decline. The volume includes fresh approaches to reading poetry, fiction, film and dra…
 
What is the Administrative State? Where did it come from? Is it a cause for concern or celebration? Adam J. White, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Director of the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, answers these questions and more. You can…
 
Gary Kulik was a Catholic Conscientious Objector (CO) during the Vietnam War, but when he was drafted he decided to go and serve as a medic. He tells me about this decision and how he arrived at it, about his journey to Vietnam, his experiences there, and his return. He also talks about how Americans often misrepresent the war in Hollywood and poli…
 
Americans have always had mixed emotions about schooling: in popular literature and television, teachers are often depicted as tyrannical authorities, even as in classroom settings they often try to style themselves as "friends." Dr. Rita Koganzon, professor of political science at the University of Houston, discusses the history of the idea of aut…
 
Today’s podcast features a collective reading of Francesca Ferrando’s new text Existential Posthumanism: A Manifesto. It is set to a drone instrument called a sound bed, made up on a hundred strings, with live musical interludes played on the esraj by myself. The podcast ends with my own transcultural re-imagination of the jazz standard Nature Boy.…
 
99.9% of aspiring rappers never make it in the music industry. So why do we only hear the stories of the ones who do? DVS Mindz might be the greatest rap group you've never heard of. Formed in Topeka, Kansas, in the mid-1990s, they developed a reputation for ferocious rhyming and frenetic live performances. In their heyday, DVS Mindz released a cri…
 
Fights about the fate of the state of Israel, and the Zionist movement that gave birth to it, have long been a staple of both Jewish and American political culture. In We Are Not One: A History of America’s Fight Over Israel (Basic Books, 2022), Eric Alterman traces this debate from its nineteenth-century origins. Following Israel’s 1948–1949 War o…
 
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