November 18, 2015

Pilgrim Fathers: How the Thanksgiving we know and love was manufactured

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is a day most Americans look forward to, a day of watching parades and feasting on delicious food with friends and family. However, the rosy picture we have in our minds of our Pilgrim forefathers sitting down to eat with the local Native American tribes is, frankly, a myth. In honor of the holiday, American religious historian Mark Valeri shares the true and harrowing tales of the Pilgrim immigrants, and how and why their story came to national prominence in the post-Civil War era. He also examines how the myth of that first Thanksgiving has taken root in the American identity, and traces the revisions the story has undergone through the decades.

November 11, 2015

Islam, Immigration, and What It Means to Be French

Going Global: Episode #9

The following podcast was released just days before the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris. As the attacks continue to shape attitudes about the migrant crisis, we hope the podcast can provide some helpful context and history. For updated commentary from John Bowen, please see his op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

In 2015 alone, hundreds of thousands of migrants have fled war-torn Syria and elsewhere and made their way to Europe. While many Europeans have welcomed the refugees, some countries have expressed reluctance to accept Muslim asylum seekers. When thinking about the ongoing crisis, anthropologist John Bowen sees a discouraging consistency with the larger history of Islam and immigration in Europe, particularly in France. Here he talks about that history and and how Europe, and France in particular, can best move forward.


November 4, 2015

India and Biotechnology

Going Global: Episode #8

India has more hungry people than any other country in the world. Can biotechnology solve this enormous problem? Glenn Stone, professor of sociocultural anthropology and environmental studies, describes the controversies and debates surrounding the role of genetically modified crops in the developing world. Stone writes about food, farming, and biotechnology on his blog, FieldQuestions.



October 21, 2015

When Countries Cheat

Going Global: Episode #7

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, countries enter into more and more international agreements. Tens of thousands of such agreements help form common rules about everything from trade relations to environmental policy to immigration rights. But what happens when countries break the rules? In his latest book, International Courts and the Performance of International Agreements, political scientist Matt Gabel examines how international courts work and how they can be most effective.

October 14, 2015

The Human Problem Facing Global Cities

Going Global: Episode #6

In an increasingly global and interconnected world, cities from Chicago to Rio de Janeiro confront similar issues. Where and how will people live as urban centers become both larger and more dense? What are the effects of urban renewal on lower-income populations? Carol Camp Yeakey, director of the Center on Urban Research & Public Policy and Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, shares her perspectives on urban studies in a global context.

A version of this podcast first aired in our 2013 Cities series.

October 7, 2015

In a Global Economy, What Happens to Elections?

Going Global: Episode #5
When battling for votes and popular support, political parties across the globe have often chosen to focus on economic issues. But as countries become more and more integrated into a larger, global economy, does this remain true? Or, do non-economic issues like immigration, the environment, and social justice become more prominent? In a recent paper, graduate student Dalston Ward, along with two of his classmates and political scientist Margit Tavits, examined the role of globalization in how political parties have changed strategies over time.

September 23, 2015

Migration and Change in the Himalayan Highlands

Going Global: Episode #4

High in the rugged mountains of Nepal, communities in the valley of Nubri are confronting rapid changes. In recent years, the majority of school-age children from Nubri leave their villages to be educated in boarding schools or monasteries outside the valley. What opportunities do these children have once they finish school, and what happens to these ethnically Tibetan communities if the children never come home? Anthropologist Geoff Childs, who has been working in Nubri for decades, explains a complicated story of outmigration and cultural change.

September 16, 2015

Natural Gas in the New Bolivia

Going Global: Episode #3

Modern debates over energy and natural gas often center on environmental issues and global warming. Yet in places like Bolivia, where many citizens still use firewood as their main energy source, the conversation can sound much different. There, the desire for convenience and progress often overrides environmental concerns, and in some cases, also the rights and safety of indigenous people. Anthropologist Bret Gustafson is working on a book about gas and power in Bolivia. Here, he discusses the complicated relationship between energy, politics, the environment, and indigenous rights.

September 9, 2015

An Adult Choice? Corporate Responsibility and the Global Face of Tobacco

Going Global: Episode #2

Tobacco has been a global industry for more than a century. But in the era of corporate social responsibility, how do tobacco companies justify their push to sell even more cigarettes around the world? Trade agreements like the currently proposed Trans Pacific Partnership make it easier for tobacco corporations to flood markets in low- and middle-income countries, where 80% of the world's billion tobacco users live. Anthropologist Peter Benson, author of Tobacco Capitalism, weighs in.

September 2, 2015

A Few Dollars Can Help Girls Stay in School. Here's How.

Going Global: Episode #1

In the United States, a woman's monthly period is rarely more than a slight inconvenience. In places like the Tigray region of Ethiopia, however, the story is much different. There, many girls face adolescence without information or basic materials like sanitary pads or tampons. Confused and embarrassed, menstruating young women often stay home from school. With the help of Lewis Wall, one Ethiopian woman is attempting to create a local, sustainable solution to this problem. You can find out more about their efforts at


October 28, 2015

The Witches' Hammer: Magic and Law in Early Modern Europe

Halloween 2015

Back by popular demand! This podcast was first released in October 2014.

In 1487, when the witch trials were just starting to take root in Europe, a Dominican priest published the Malleus Maleficarum, or The Witches' Hammer, a treatise on the prosecution of witches in a court of law. This text would be used over the next three centuries as the authority on the trial and torture of witches, laying out why women in particular were so susceptible to witchcraft. By the end of the witch craze in the 1720s, an estimated 80,000 had been tried and executed. In this extended episode, Gerhild Williams, a professor of comparative literature and Germanic literature and culture, breaks down the witch trial phenomenon into three parts: (1) defining the witch and the roots of these beliefs, (2) how the political landscape evolved and the contents of The Witches' Hammer, and (3) how and why the witch craze took hold and what we can learn from it today.

September 30, 2015

The Physics of Baseball

MLB Playoff Season 2015

Ever wonder why some hits feel good when the bat connects with the pitch, and others leave your hands ringing? Or exactly how a pitcher throws a ball that seems to curve just as the batter swings? Physicist Dr. Kasey Wagoner says, like most things in our universe, it all comes back to physics. Just in time for MLB playoff season, he talks about the forces involved in different pitches and how the "sweet spot" of the bat works.