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Interviews with Historians about their New Books

3850 Episodes
Marion Kaplan's riveting book, Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal (Yale University Press) describes the dramatic experiences of Jewish refugees as they fled Hitler’s regime and then lived in limbo in Portugal until they could reach safer havens abroad. Drawing attention not only to the social and physical upheavals these refugees experienced, Marion Kaplan also highlights their feelings as they fled their homes and histories, while having to beg strangers for kindness. Portugal’s dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, admitted the largest number of Jews fleeing westward—tens of thousands of them—but then set his secret police on those who did not move along quickly enough. Yet Portugal’s people left a lasting impression on refugees for their caring and generosity. Most refugees in Portugal showed strength and stamina as they faced unimagined challenges. An emotional history of fleeing, this book probes how specific locations touched refugees’ inner lives, including the borders they nervously crossed or the overcrowded transatlantic ships that signaled their liberation. Marion Kaplan is Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History at New York University. She is the author of Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany and a three-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award. Robin Buller is a Doctoral Candidate in History at UNC Chapel Hill and is a 2020-2021 dissertation fellow with the Association for Jewish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How could a peasant in Shandong in the Qing dynasty come to know enough about a specific law that he felt confident enough to kill his own wife and his lover’s husband and think that he could get away with it? As Ting Zhang’s new book, Circulating the Code: Print Media and Legal Knowledge in Qing China (University of Washington Press, 2020) shows, there was a whole range of ways: he could have read the entire statute himself, in either an official or a commercial edition of the Qing Code, or found a simple explanation of it in a popular legal handbook. He could have heard a community lecture on it, or seen the statute dramatized on stage. The state might have intended or tried to control the popular dissemination of legal information, but thanks to commercial printing and a thriving book market, legal knowledge circulated and disseminated far and wide in the Qing – right down to a peasant with murder on his mind. Circulating the Code is a beautiful combination of legal history and print culture history. Comparing different official and commercial editions of the Qing Code, handbooks for litigation masters, and manuals for community legal lectures, it explores the production, circulation, and reception of legal knowledge in Qing China, shows how the dissemination of legal information transformed law, and challenges assumptions about the state monopolization of accurate legal knowledge in the Qing. Wonderfully detailed, lucidly written, and packed full of fascinating books, this is a must-read for anyone interested in legal history, the history of the book, and in thinking about comparative histories of print culture and commercial publishing. Ting Zhang is assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland. Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate at Harvard University. She works on Manchu books and Manchu translations and loves anything involving a good kesike. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In 1933, the Chicago Symphony performed the Symphony in E Minor by Florence B. Price. It was the first time a major American orchestra played a composition by an African American woman. Despite her success, Price sank into obscurity after her death in 1953. Dr. Rae Linda Brown spent much of her career researching and writing about Price’s life and music, as well as advocating for African American representation in academia and in the concert hall. Three years after her death, University of Illinois Press published the manuscript she left largely complete at her passing: Heart of a Woman: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price (University of Illinois Press, 2020). Two guests join this podcast to talk about the biography—Dr. Carlene Brown, Rae Linda’s sister, and Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, who edited the book and prepared it for publication. Heart of a Woman places Price’s life and music within the context of genteel middle-class African American culture and the active black classical music scene in Chicago in the 1930s and 40s. Brown also analyzes Price’s major pieces, teasing out the ways the composer embedded influences from black musical traditions into her concert music. Today Florence Price’s music is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, due in no small part to the work of Dr. Rae Linda Brown. G. Schirmer Inc. has acquired the rights to Price’s catalog and has been publishing her music (some pieces for the first time). In the 2019–2020 season alone, the Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Seattle Symphonies, among others, performed her work. Rae Linda Brown was the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Pacific Lutheran University at her death in 2017. Her research and publications focused on African American concert music and Florence B. Price. Carlene J. Brown is Professor of Music and Director of the Music Therapy Program at Seattle Pacific University. Her research and clinical work centers on the use of music for pain management. Guthrie Ramsey is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University Pennsylvania. A musicologist, pianist, and composer, Ramsey has published extensively on African American music including two books. He has also released three recordings with his band Dr. Guy’s MusiQology and directed the documentary Amazing: The Tests and Triumph of Bud Powell (2015) among other projects. Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Over the course of three decades of public service, Herbert Lehman dedicated himself tirelessly to advances the causes in which he believed. In Herbert H. Lehman: A Political Biography (SUNY Press, 2017), Duane Tananbaum describes his livelong public activism and the role Lehman’s relationships with key individuals played in shaping his political career. Tananbaum identifies the first of these as relationships as the lifelong friendship Lehman established with the social reformer Lilian Wald, with whom Lehman worked in a settlement house on New York’s Lower East Side. It was Lehman’s partnership with Al Smith, however that led to a career in elected office, as Smith was key in convincing Lehman to run for the lieutenant governorship of New York in 1928. As lieutenant governor, Lehman labored closely with Franklin Roosevelt throughout the latter man’s tenure as governor. When Roosevelt became president Lehman succeeded him as governor, and for the rest of the decade worked with his predecessor to implement the New Deal in his state. Lehman was also concerned about the threat posed by Nazi Germany, and his efforts on behalf of Jewish refugees led to roles administering relief aid in the Roosevelt administration during the Second World War. While he left public office soon after the end of the war, Lehman’s election to the United States Senate in 1949 gave him a new opportunity to fight for the causes of civil rights and immigration. Though frustrated by the seniority enjoyed by the body’s more conservative members, Lehman’s efforts kept the issues at the forefront of the national political scene, with the legislative solutions he advocated passed soon after his death in 1963. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
From their earliest encounters with Indigenous Pacific Islanders, white Europeans and Americans saw Polynesians as almost racially white, and speculated that they were of Mediterranean or Aryan descent. In Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai‘i and Oceania (Duke University Press, 2020) Maile Arvin argues that a logic of possession through whiteness animates settler colonialism in which Polynesians become exotic, feminized belongings of whiteness. This provided white settlers with the justification needed to claim Polynesian lands and resources. Understood as possessions, Polynesians were and continue to be denied the privileges of whiteness. Yet Polynesians have long contested these classifications, claims, and cultural representations, and Arvin shows how their resistance to and refusal of white settler logic have regenerated Indigenous forms of recognition. In this episode of the podcast Maile talks to host Alex Golub about her book and its implications. She describes what 'possessing Polynesians' entails and how it plays out in anthropology. The discussion then shifts to ways in which Hawaiians are 'possessed' by this racial logic and use it in their own self-understanding and legal and political struggles. Finally, Maile discusses the concept of 'regenerative refusal' and how this strategy is being used by Hawaiians today. Maile Arvin is an assistant professor of History and Gender Studies at the University of Utah. She is Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and studies historical and contemporary issues of race, indigeneity and science. Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He is the author of the article "Welcoming the New Amateurs: A future (and past) for non-academic anthropologists" as well as other books and articles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
James West speaks with Erik Gellman, an associate professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about his new book Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles Through the Lens of Art Shay (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Fusing photography and history to demonstrate how racial and economic inequality gave rise to a decades-long struggle for justice in one of America's most iconic cities, Gellman challenges us to consider: what does democracy look like? And when should we cause trouble to pursue it? This innovative collaboration provides a timely look at how social conflict can shape a city - and may even inspire readers to pursue their own forms of 'good' trouble. E. James West is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in American History at Northumbria University, Newcastle. He is the author of Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America (Illinois, 2020) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
‘Where were the women?’ was the big question that led Annette Joseph-Gabriel to her new book, Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire (University of Illinois Press, 2020). This ‘where’ ended up meaning different things as she tracked the lives, ideas, and roles played by Black women during the era of decolonization. The ‘where’ in the final project is sometimes geographic, moving through and across spaces in the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe, and Africa. It also speaks to spaces of activism and writing, including politics, literature, and private correspondence. The seven women that Joseph-Gabriel’s book follows—Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Eugénie Éboué-Tell, Jane Vialle, Andrée Blouin, Aoua Kéita, and Eslanda Robeson—make up a transnational force and network throughout, illuminating the ways women moved physically, politically, intellectually, and creatively while also showing the places where their worlds and thoughts intersected. Centering the experiences and stories of Black women as ‘political protagonists,’ the book considers questions of race, gender, and political agency. It also pays close attention the multiplicity of possible futures that these women envisioned and sought to bring about through their anti-colonial activism. Reimagining Liberation examines closely the citizenship demands and challenges made by these women whose contributions during this transformative period in the history of empire have been relatively neglected. While all of these women led impressive lives, some were connected to very famous men (Aimé Césaire, Félix Eboué, or Paul Robeson, for example) and issues of visibility and legibility in terms of sources and biographies run throughout the book’s chapters. Reimagining Liberation is a fascinating collection of pathways and ideas that resonates in very particular ways in 2020, a moment of global crisis and protest around issues of racial inequality and violence. It was a true pleasure to speak with Annette about this important work and these issues at such a pivotal time. Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel is an assistant professor of French at University of Michigan. Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and its empire. She is the author of Future Tense: The Culture of Anticipation in France Between the Wars (2009). Her current research focuses on the history of French nuclear weapons and testing since 1945. Her most recent article, ‘“No Hiroshima in Africa”: The Algerian War and the Question of French Nuclear Tests in the Sahara’ appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of History of the Present. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada and hopes all listeners are keeping healthy and safe at this difficult time in our world. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send her an email (   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In Record Cultures: The Transformation of the U.S. Recording Industry (University of Michigan Press, 2020), Kyle Barnett tells the story of the smaller U.S. record labels in the 1920s that created the genres later to be known as blues, country, and jazz. Barnett also engages the early recording industry as entertainment media, considering the ways in which sound recording, radio, and film converge in the late 1920s. Record Cultures explores Gennett Records and jazz; race records, with a focus on the African American-owned Black Swan Records, as well as the white-owned Paramount Records; the origins of old-time music as a category that will become country; the growth of radio; the intersections of music and film; and the recording industry’s challenges in the wake of the Great Depression. Kyle Barnett is Associate Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Communication at Bellarmine University. Kimberly Mack holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA, and she is an Assistant Professor of African-American literature at the University of Toledo in Ohio. Her book, Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White, is forthcoming from the University of Massachusetts Press in December 2020. Mack is also a music critic who has contributed her work to national and international publications, including Music Connection, Relix, Village Voice, PopMatters, and Hot Press. She published a 2019 essay for Longreads titled “Johnny Rotten, My Mom, and Me.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Today we are joined by Sasha Abramsky, author of Little Wonder: The Fabulous Story of Lottie Dod, the World’s First Female Sports Superstar (Akashic Books, 2020). Lottie Dod is not a familiar name among casual sports fans but should be. She won the first of her five Wimbledon titles when she was 15 and dominated tennis before walking away. Sticking to one game, she believed, was “appalling.” Dod then took up golf, winning a major women’s golf title. She also won a silver medal in archery at the 1908 Olympics. Dod also dabbled in skating, endurance bicycling, mountain climbing and even toboggan racing. Unlike Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Dod, however, was born before the golden age of sports, so few people have seen photographs or videos from her prime. Garbo-esque in later life, Dod kept to herself after her sports career. But her achievements sprang from the belief that there were no obstacles in her path. Abramsky, a freelance journalist who specializes in politics, is also an obsessive tennis fan. He stumbled upon Dod while visiting Wimbledon’s museum and was enchanted by her ability and career. Abramsky combines descriptive writing with research that pulls back the curtain to reveal an athlete whose feats remain stunning 60 years after her death and more than a century after her glory days. Bob D’Angelo earned his master’s degree in history from Southern New Hampshire University in May 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent more than three decades as a sportswriter and sports copy editor, including 28 years on the sports copy desk at The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. He can be reached at For more information, visit Bob D’Angelo’s Books and Blogs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In 1918 Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, becoming its first female African American graduate (though she was not allowed to "walk" at graduation, nor is she pictured in the 1918 CU yearbook). In Remembering Lucile: A Virginia Family's Rise from Slavery and a Legacy Forged a Mile High (University Press of Colorado), author Polly McLean depicts the rise of the African American middle class through the historical journey of Lucile and her family from slavery in northern Virginia to life in the American West, using their personal story as a lens through which to examine the greater experience of middle-class Blacks in the early twentieth century. The first-born daughter of emancipated slaves, Lucile refused to be defined by the racist and sexist climate of her times, settling on a career path in teaching that required great courage in the face of pernicious Jim Crow laws. Embracing her sister’s dream for higher education and W. E. B. Du Bois’s ideology, she placed education and intelligence at the forefront of her life, teaching in places where she could most benefit African American students. Over her 105 years she was an eyewitness to spectacular, inspiring, and tragic moments in American history, including horrific lynchings and systemic racism in housing and business opportunities, as well as the success of women's suffrage and Black-owned businesses and educational institutions. Remembering Lucile employs a unique blend of Black feminist historiography and wider discussions of race, gender, class, religion, politics, and education to illuminate major events in African American history and culture, as well as the history of the University of Colorado and its relationship to Black students and alumni, as it has evolved from institutional racism to welcoming acceptance. This extensive biography paints a vivid picture of a strong, extraordinary Black woman who witnessed an extraordinary time in America and rectifies her omission from CU’s institutional history. The book fills an important gap in the literature of the history of Blacks in the Rocky Mountain region and will be of significance to anyone interested in American history. Polly E. Bugros McLean is associate professor of media studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she has served as director of Women and Gender Studies and as the faculty associate to the Chancellor. Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in anthropology, women’s history, and literature. She works as a historian, poet, and photographer. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler writes the histories of largely unknown women, poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What happens when a new group of migrants enters not just the social and economic life of a city, but also its religious institutions? Deborah E. Kanter, the John S. Ludington Endowed Professor of History at Albion College, takes us through the dramatic demographic transformation of Chicago through the eyes of Catholic parishes and Mexican churchgoers in her new book Chicago Católico: Making Catholic Parishes Mexican (University of Illinois Press, 2020). Catholic churches simultaneously served as a refugio for newly arrived Mexican immigrants to connect with their culture and mexicanidad, while also being sites of Americanization for their U.S.-born children. As the Mexican community in Chicago outgrew its original ethnic enclaves, it expanded into new neighborhoods and mixed into traditionally Slavic parishes. Ultimately, Latino laypeople made these new parishes their own in a process of ethnic succession that continues to define local churches today. Contrary to the mainstream trend in Chicano studies that has deemphasized the role of religion in Mexican American culture, Kanter foregrounds the Church as the center of everyday life for many Mexicans in Chicago throughout the twentieth century. Full of rich detail and personal stories collected from oral interviews, the book illustrates the centrality of local parishes in the creation of Latino Chicago. Jaime Sánchez, Jr. is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at Princeton University and a scholar of U.S. politics and Latino studies. He is currently writing an institutional history of the Democratic National Committee and partisan coalition politics in the twentieth century. You can follow him on Twitter @Jaime_SanchezJr. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
From Red-Baiting to Blacklisting: The Labor Plays of Manny Fried (SIU Press 2020) collects three plays by Manny Fried alongside a thorough explanation of his work and life by theatre scholar Barry Witham. Witham traces Fried’s long career as a labor organizer and Communist Party militant, as well as the obsessive lengths the FBI went to in order to suppress his activism. Fried is unique among American playwrights in his intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the labor movement, and this knowledge is fully evident in the plays. Issues of red-baiting, deindustrialization, and religious bigotry take center stage in his work, which carries the radical tradition of Clifford Odets and the Federal Theatre Project into the long decline of labor beginning in the 1960s and continuing to this day. From Red-Baiting to Blacklisting is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of theatre and the labor movement. Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA program at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. His plays have been produced, developed, or presented at IRT, Pipeline Theatre Company, The Gingold Group, Dixon Place, Roundabout Theatre, Epic Theatre Company, Out Loud Theatre, Naked Theatre Company, Contemporary Theatre of Rhode Island, and The Trunk Space. He is currently working on a series of 50 plays about the 50 U.S. states. His website is, and he can be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
One of France’s most famous historians compares and contrasts the two most famous French exemplars of political and military leadership of the past two-hundred and fifty years to make the case that individuals, for better and worse, matter in history. Historians have tried to teach us that the historical past is not just a narrative of heroes and wars. The anonymous millions they like to argue also matter and are active agents of change. But in erroneously democratizing history, we – they have lost track of the outsized, indeed stupendous role that individuals can and play in shaping world historical events. In his new book Napoleon and de Gaulle: Heroes and History (Harvard University Press, 2020), Professor Patrice Gueniffey provides us with a compelling reminder of the importance of heroes in history, in this powerful dual biography of two transformative leaders, Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle. Both became national figures at times of crisis and war. They were hailed as saviors and were eager to embrace the label. They were also animated by quests for personal and national greatness, by the desire to raise France above itself and lead it on a mission to enlighten the world. Both united an embattled nation, returned it to dignity, and left a permanent political legacy—in Napoleon’s case, a form of administration and a body of civil law; in de Gaulle’s case, new political institutions. Professor Gueniffey compares Napoleon’s and de Gaulle’s journeys to power; their methods; their ideas and writings, notably about war; and their postmortem reputations. He also contrasts their weaknesses: Napoleon’s limitless ambitions and appetite for war and de Gaulle’s capacity for cruelty and cynicism, manifested most clearly in relations to the end of the war in Algeria. They were men of genuine talent and achievement, with flaws almost as pronounced as their strengths. As many nations, not least France, struggle to find their soul in a rapidly changing world, Gueniffey shows us what a difference an extraordinary leader can make. Patrice Gueniffey is Director of the Raymond Aron Center for Political Research at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. One of France’s leading historians of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic ages, he is the author of Bonaparte, the monumental first volume of the definitive modern French biography of Napoleon. Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The nostalgic mist surrounding farms can make it hard to write their history, encrusting them with stereotypical rural virtues and unrealistically separating them from markets, capitalism, and urban influences. The Nature of the Future: Agriculture, Science, and Capitalism in the Antebellum North (University Of Chicago Press) aims to remake this staid vision. Emily Pawley examines a place and period of enormous agricultural vitality—antebellum New York State—and follows thousands of “improving agriculturists,” part of the largest, most diverse, and most active scientific community in nineteenth-century America. Pawley shows that these improvers practiced a kind of science hard for contemporary readers to recognize, in which profit was not only a goal but also the underlying purpose of the natural world. Far from producing a more rational vision of nature, northern farmers practiced a form of science where conflicting visions of the future landscape appeared and evaporated in quick succession. Drawing from environmental history, U.S. history, and the history of science, and extensively mining a wealth of antebellum agricultural publications, The Nature of the Future uncovers the rich loam hiding beneath ostensibly infertile scholarly terrain, revealing a surprising area of agricultural experimentation that transformed American landscapes and American ideas of expertise, success, and exploitation. New Books Network listeners can purchase The Nature of the Future for 25% off using the coupon code PAWLEY here. Emily Pawley is Associate Professor of History at Dickinson College. Twitter. Brian Hamilton is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he is researching African American environmental history. He lives in Western Massachusetts and teaches at Deerfield Academy. Twitter. Website. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Ulrike Freitag’s A History of Jeddah: The Gate to Mecca in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Cambridge University Press), offers a rich urban and biographical history of Jeddah. Known as the 'Gate to Mecca' or 'Bride of the Red Sea', Jeddah has been a gateway for pilgrims travelling to Mecca and Medina and a station for international trade routes between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean for centuries. Seen from the perspective of its diverse population, this first biography of Jeddah traces the city's urban history and cosmopolitanism from the late Ottoman period to its present-day claim to multiculturalism, within the conservative environment of the Arabian Peninsula. Contextualising Jeddah with developments in the wider Muslim world, Ulrike Freitag investigates how different groups of migrants interacted in a changing urban space and how their economic activities influenced the political framework of the city. Richly illustrated, this study reveals how the transformation of Jeddah's urban space, population and politics has been indicative of changes in the wider Arab and Red Sea region, re-evaluating its place in the Middle East at a time when both its cosmopolitan practices and old city are changing dramatically against a backdrop of modernisation and Saudi nation-building. Ulrike Freitag is a historian of the Modern Middle East with a special interest in urban history and the Arabian Peninsula in its global context. She directs Zentrum Moderner Orient and teaches at the Freie Universität. She is author of Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut (Brill, 2003). Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this unapologetically African-centered monograph, Nwando Achebe considers the diverse forms and systems of female leadership in both the physical and spiritual worlds, as well as the complexities of female power in a multiplicity of distinct African societies. From Amma to the goddess inkosazana, Sobekneferu to Nzingha, Nehanda to Ahebi Ugbabe, Omu Okwei, and the daughters or umuada of Igboland, Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa (Ohio University Press, 2020) documents the worlds and life histories of elite African females, female principles, and (wo)men of privilege. Chronologically and by theme, Nwando Achebe pieces together the worlds and experiences of African females from African-derived sources, especially language. Achebe explores the meaning and significance of names, metaphors, symbolism, cosmology, chronicles, songs, folktales, proverbs, oral traditions, traditions of creation, and more. From centralized to small-scale egalitarian societies, patrilineal to matrilineal systems, North Africa to sub-Saharan lands, Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa offers an unparalleled history of the remarkable African women who occupied positions of power, authority, and influence. Madina Thiam is a PhD candidate in history at UCLA. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Universities have become state-like entities, possessing their own hospitals, police forces, and real estate companies. To become such behemoths, higher education institutions relied on the state for resources and authority. Through government largesse and shrewd legal maneuvering, university administrators became powerful interests in urban planning during the twentieth century. LaDale Winling's Building the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press) casts higher education as the beneficiary and catalyst of the century's monumental state building projects--receiving millions in New Deal construction funds, even more from WWII-era military research, and directing the bulldozer's path during urban renewal schemes around the country. As state-funding for higher education decreased in the second half of the twentieth century and universities became more dependent on endowment investment and commercial research, their interests diverged even more sharply from the needs and desires of surrounding communities. Winling discusses challenges he faced while researching the book, obstacles to organizing against harmful higher education practices today, and his ongoing digital project on redlining called Mapping Inequality. LaDale C. Winling is Associate Professor of History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Patrick Reilly​ is a PhD student in US History at Vanderbilt University. He studies police, community organizations, and urban development. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920 (LSU Press, 2017), Dr. Jennifer Atkins draws back the curtain on the origin of the exclusive Mardi Gras balls, bringing to light unique traditions unseen by outsiders. The oldest Carnival organizations emerged in the mid-nineteenth century and ruled Mardi Gras from the Civil War until World War I. For these organizations, Carnival balls became magical realms where krewesmen reinforced their elite identity through sculpted tableaux vivants performances, mock coronations, and romantic ballroom dancing. They used costume and movement to reaffirm their group identity, and the crux of these performances relied on a specific mode of expression—dancing. Using the concept of dance as a lens for examining Carnival balls, Atkins delves deeper into the historical context and distinctive rituals of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Jennifer Atkins is graduate program director at Florida State University’s School of Dance. Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) is a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology at Florida State University. She is currently working on a dissertation about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival celebrations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The American attitude towards outsiders has always been ambivalent. The United States, it is commonly said, is a nation of immigrants; today, it’s the most demographically diverse great power. But on the other side of that spectrum have been anxiety about and hatred for the foreign. And there’s no shortage of this: from the English-only movements of the 1980s and 90s to the continued power of America First. Thomas Borstelmann, E.N. and Katherine Thompson Professor of Modern World History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has tried to sort out that ambivalence in his thoughtful and thought-provoking new book Just Like Us: The American Struggle to Understand Foreigners (Columbia University Press, 2020). The book entertains its readers with examples pulled from the unlikeliest of places (Chef Boyardee and Captain America make appearances). But it also provokes us to think about the US’ relationship with the foreign in a much more complicated way. Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @DexterFergie. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this episode, we speak with Alyssa Gabbay about her recent new book Gender and Succession in Medieval and Early Modern Islam: Bilateral Descent and the Legacy of Fatima (I.B. Tauris, 2020). The book shows that contrary to assumptions about Islam’s patrilineal nature, there is in fact precedent in pre-modern Islamic history of Muslims' recognition of bilateral descent, or descent from both the mother and the father – though, of course, bilateral descent was by no means universally acknowledged. Although not the only example of this argument, Muhammad’s daughter Fatima is essential to the study because of her status in both Sunni and Shi’i societies historically as well as because especially Shi’is have used the example of Fatima, through whom Muhammad’s lineage can be traced, to argue in support of bilateral descent. In our conversation, we discuss the concept of bilateral descent and its three components of women as mothers, heiresses, and successors; Fatima’s relevance and significance to the discussion of descent and as a representative of bilateral descent; parallels between Mary the mother of Jesus and other pious women in Muslim history; Fatima’s claim to fadak as her inheritance and its impact on Sunni and Shi’i history; and female rulers in Muslim history. The book would make for an enjoyable and educational read for anyone interested in gender studies, Islam and gender, female authority, biographical studies, medieval Islam, and Islamic history, and would make for a great resource for both undergraduate and graduate Islam courses. Shehnaz Haqqani is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. Her primary research areas include Islam, gender, and questions of change and tradition in Islam. She also vlogs on YouTube; her videos focus on dismantling the patriarchy and are available at: She can be reached at   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (2)

Максим Березовский

microphone is awful

Feb 13th

Penelope Hunt

Uninformed and disappointing

Mar 7th
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