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90 Second Narratives

Author: Sky Michael Johnston

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90 Second Narratives is a weekly podcast featuring engaging true stories told by trained historians. Each episode includes a short story interwoven with expert analysis of the story’s historical significance. The concise length and storytelling format of the episodes make history accessible, dynamic, and entertaining. The subjects of the stories are diverse—spanning the globe and ranging from the pre-historic to the modern age. While individual stories stand alone, the episodes in each season are linked thematically and combine to offer comparative perspectives that illuminate connections from across the human experience. Every episode also includes recommendations for further reading. 90 Second Narratives provides a novel way to hear historians share the wonders of the past in their own voices.
80 Episodes
“Historians like to say, everything has a history. Recently, the history of animals, has seen some development. The history of dogs, living closely beside humans for millennia as guards, workers, hunting aids and companions, illustrates a relationship with nature over time and sheds light on how our species has understood our role on our planet as owners, custodians, or exploiters of the natural world, and it includes ambiguous friendships…” So begins today’s story from Dr. Claudia Kreklau.For further reading:Parry, Tyler D., and Charlton W. Yingling. “Slave Hounds and Abolition in the Americas.” Past & Present 246 (2020): 69–108.A.W.H. Bates, (ed.), Anti-Vivisection and the Profession of Medicine in Britain: A Social History, The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017. 
This special episode combines all the stories from Season 8…“A Black Woman’s Spiritual Journey to the City” – Dr. J. T. Roane, Assistant Professor of African & African American Studies at Arizona State University“Cotton: Connecting the Atlantic World” – Dr. Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University“Soju: A Liquor’s Global Journey” – Dr. Hyunhee Park, Associate Professor of History at the City University of New York, John Jay College and CUNY Graduate Center“The Columbian Exchange” – Dr. Sky Michael Johnston, Associated Fellow at the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) Mainz“Hotel Owners and the Shape of Japanese Transpacific Migration” – Dr. Yukari Takai, Research Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research at York University and Visiting Research Scholar at the International Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan“Chinese Migration and the Shaping of Costa Rica” – Dr. Benjamín Narváez, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Morris“A US Consul on the Road to a Coup” – Dr. Abby Mullen, Term Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and Host/Executive Producer of the Consolation Prize podcast“Using Astrology to Plan Journeys” – Dr. Sky Michael Johnston“The ‘Conflict Thesis’: A Resilient Idea’s Journey” – Dr. James C. Ungureanu, Humanities Teacher at Trinity Classical Academy in Santa Clarita, California
"What factors do you take into consideration before going on a journey? Do you have any sense of when is a good time for a journey? Or, a good time for a specific type of journey? In sixteenth-century Germany, people had a way of systematizing the good and bad times for many of life’s activities, including travel…"So begins today’s story from Dr. Sky Michael Johnston.For further reading:Der Bawren Practica oder Wetterbüchlein
“When historians of science and religion write about the ‘conflict thesis,’ what are they talking about?”So begins today’s story from Dr. James C. Ungureanu. For further reading:Science, Religion, and the Protestant Tradition: Retracing the Origins of Conflict by James C. Ungureanu (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)
“At the turn of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Japanese migrants left their island nation, landed in Hawai’i, only to depart for Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, or Victoria…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Yukari Takai.For further reading:Yukari Takai, “Recrafting Marriage in Meiji Hawai’i, 1885-1913,” Gender & History, 31, 3 (2019), 646-664.
The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange


“One of the most famous, and consequential, journeys in the history of humanity was Christopher Columbus’ fateful journey across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Sky Michael Johnston.For further reading:The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 by Alfred W. Crosby (1972) Episode transcript:
“When American soldier William Eaton started his search for Hamet Karamanli in late 1804, he had an audacious plan…So begins today’s story from Dr. Abby Mullen.For more, listen to the Consolation Prize podcast. Episode transcript:
“I am looking at a square cotton canvas about 10 cm by 10 cm. A grid of black and white tiles – they look like domino counters - have been painted on it in alternating patterns. This canvas was given to me by the wonderful artist and Turner Prize winner, Lubaina Himid CBE…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Anna Arabindan-Kesson. For further reading:Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton and Commerce in the Atlantic World by Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Duke University Press, 2021) Episode transcript:
“Crossing the thresholds between worlds…”So begins today’s story from Dr. J. T. Roane.For further reading:“A Totally Different Form of Living: On the Legacies of Displacement and Marronage as Black Ecologies” Southern Cultures 27 (2021) by Justin Hosbey and J. T. RoaneEpisode transcript:
“On November 20, 1930 the Ulúa arrived in Limón, Costa Rica with four Chinese passengers carrying Costa Rican passports…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Benjamín Narváez. For further reading:“The Power and Pitfalls of Patronage: Chinese Immigrants in Costa Rica during the Era of Exclusion, 1897–1943” Journal of Migration History 6 (2020) Episode transcript:
“For those who have not yet tasted soju, or heard about it, soju is the distinctive national spirit of Korea, a clear and colorless distilled liquor similar to vodka. It was only available inside Korea in the twentieth century, but soju is now one of the world’s most popular drinks…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Hyunhee Park.For further reading:Soju: A Global History by Hyunhee Park (Cambridge University Press, 2021)Episode transcript:
This special episode combines all the stories from Season 7…“Togolese Women in the Struggle for Independence” – Marius Kothor, PhD candidate in the Department of History at Yale University “Taungurung Community in Australia” – Dr. Jennifer Jones, Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies, Archaeology and History at La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga Campus“Native Americans in Anti-Colonial Networks” – Dr. Justin Gage, Visiting Researcher at the University of Helsinki and Instructor at the University of Arkansas“An Islamic Community in Nineteenth-Century West Africa” – Dr. Mauro Nobili, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign“The Church Order in the Protestant Reformation” – Dr. Sky Michael Johnston, Associated Fellow, Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) Mainz“Underdogs in the American Imagination” – Dr. Bruce Berglund, Historian“Community in Loneliness” – Dr. Fay Bound Alberti, Reader in History at the University of York“Healers in Seventeenth-Century Angola” – Dr. Kalle Kananoja, Senior Researcher in the Department of History at University of Oulu“Intellectuals in Hindustan” – Dr. Manan Ahmed Asif, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Columbia University
“The story that I want to tell you is about loneliness…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Fay Bound Alberti.For further reading:A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion by Fay Bound Alberti (Oxford University Press, 2019)Episode transcript:
“Even someone who is well-versed in the history and theology of the Protestant Reformation might not know much about the subject of this story: the church order…So begins today’s story from Dr. Sky Michael Johnston. For further reading:James M. Estes, “Johannes Brenz and the Institutionalization of the Reformation in Württemberg,” Central European History 6 (1973) Episode transcript:
“In 1698, a batch of denunciations was collected in the Jesuit college of Luanda, Angola…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Kalle Kananoja. For further reading:Healing Knowledge in Atlantic Africa: Medical Encounters, 1500–1850 by Kalle Kananoja (Cambridge University Press, 2021) Episode transcript:
“The Black Spur Drive in Australia’s scenic Yarra Ranges wends through ‘majestic Mountain Ash forests’ and past gurgling brooks, taking tourists to lush beauty spots…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Jennifer Jones.For further reading:On Taungurung Land: Sharing History and Culture by Jennifer Jones (Australian National University Press, 2020) Episode transcript:
“In Togo, people often tell a popular story about the country’s independence. The story goes something like this…”So begins today’s story from Marius Kothor. Episode transcript:
“By the late 1870s, after years of resistance, most western Native Americans had been forced onto reservations, those ever-shrinking pieces of land created by the United States government to contain and separate Natives…”So begins today’s story by Dr. Justin Gage.For further reading:We Do Not Want the Gates Closed between Us: Native Networks and the Spread of the Ghost Dance by Justin Gage (University of Oklahoma Press, 2020)American Native Networks Episode transcript:
“Sultan, Caliph, and the Renewer of the Faith explores the intertwined histories of a West African Arabic chronicle, the Tārīkh al-fattāsh and its role in advancing a political project, the legitimation of the nineteenth-century Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi, located in what is now the Republic of Mali…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Mauro Nobili.For further reading:Sultan, Caliph, and the Renewer of the Faith: Aḥmad Lobbo, the Tārīkh al-fattāsh and the Making of an Islamic State in West Africa by Mauro Nobili (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Episode transcript:
“Sports are an important ingredient in building community. Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, sports allow you to take part in a visible, public activity, fostering social connection and a sense of shared identity…”So begins today’s story from Dr. Bruce Berglund.For further reading:The Fastest Game in the World: Hockey and the Globalization of Sports by Bruce Berglund (University of California Press, 2020).Episode transcript:
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