Episodes
Tourism & travel: Laurie Taylor explores their past, present and future. He's joined by the Italian social theorist, Marco D' Eramo, whose latest book unpacks a global cultural phenomenon at the point at which some of us are considering the possibilities of foreign travel, once again. How did travelling, as an elite pastime, evolve into mass tourism? Why do tourists often despise other tourists? How 'authentic' is the average heritage site? What impact does tourism have on our cities and...
Published 06/16/21
The handshake & social interaction. Laurie Taylor explores the history and meaning of a commonplace ritual which has played a role in everything from meetings with uncontacted tribes to political assassinations. He's joined by the paleoanthropologist, Ella Al-Shamahi, who asks what this everyday, friendly gesture can tell us about the enduring power of human contact. They're joined by Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University,...
Published 06/09/21
Coalmining & Luddism: Laurie explores the meaning of progress, from the former pit villages of South Wales & Durham to contemporary high tech industry. He's joined by Huw Beynon, Emeritus Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Cardiff, who charts the rise and fall of coalmining. What has happened to those communities in a post industrial era? Those who opposed the closure of the mines were often described as Luddites, trapped in a romanticised version of a...
Published 06/02/21
MIGRANTS IN LONDON: how has London been shaped by the history of immigration? Laurie Taylor talks to Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History at De Montfort University, & author of a new study which examines the contribution of immigrants to London’s economic success and status as a global capital - from Jewish & Irish immigrants in the 19th century to the Windrush generation and beyond. They’re joined by Esther Saraga, a retired social scientist, whose recent book charts the...
Published 05/26/21
Fitness & fatness: Laurie Taylor asks if they are two sides of the same coin. He's joined by Jürgen Martschukat, Professor of North American History at the University of Erfurt and author of a new book which looks at the history of self-optimisation from the Enlightenment to the present. What’s the relationship between neoliberalism and phenomena like Viagra & aerobics ? How did the body come to symbolise success and achievement? Also, Sarah Trainer, medical anthropologist at...
Published 05/19/21
BLACKFACE & MINSTRELSY - At its most basic level, 'blackface' is the application of any prosthetic to imitate the complexion of another race. In theory, it's a performance available to all, yet 'whiteface' is relatively unknown. Laurie Taylor talks to Ayanna Thompson, Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University, about the painful history of ‘blackface’, an ancient European theatrical device that the Europeans brought with them to America. What connects it to Blackface...
Published 05/12/21
PERFUME: What’s the connection between perfume & politics in the 20th century and how do scents become invested with meaning? Laurie Taylor talks to Professor Karl Schloegel, Chair of East European History at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt, and author of a new study which examines contemporary history through the prism of two scents – Moscow Red and Chanel No 5. They’re joined by Karen Cerulo, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, who asks how individuals make...
Published 05/05/21
The Rural Idyll? Last year the National Trust produced a controversial report which revealed that 93 of its properties have direct links to colonialism and slavery. In this programme, Laurie Taylor talks to Corinne Fowler, Professor of Post Colonial Literature at the University of Leicester, whose new study engages directly with this painful history, uncovering the countryside’s repressed colonial past and its relationship to notions of Englishness. How have pastoral mythologies in English...
Published 04/28/21
Life imprisonment - Why is it that such sentences were almost unheard of a generation ago and what is their impact on prisoners, as well as society? Ben Crewe, Deputy Director of the Prison Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, talks to Laurie Taylor about the largest ever sociological study of long term imprisonment conducted in Europe. Focusing on prisoners convicted of murder & serving life sentences of 15 years or more from young adulthood, it asks how they manage time,...
Published 04/21/21
The Orange Order in Northern Ireland and Scotland: Its origins, practices and principles, from the Battle of the Boyne to the Good Friday Agreement.. Laurie Taylor talks to Joseph Webster, Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge, and author of a new book about the Orange Order in Scotland which explores the politics of anti Catholic sectarianism and ultra Britishness, as well as the tensions between grassroots Orangemen and a hierarchy wishing to cultivate a...
Published 04/14/21
Community & social capital. Laurie Taylor talks to Robert D Putnam, Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and co-author of a new study which revisits some of the themes of 'Bowling Alone' his 20 year old, groundbreaking book, which argued that Americans were losing their connections with one another. His latest research takes a look at trends over the last century which have brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again. What lessons can...
Published 04/07/21
THE BED: Laurie Taylor talks to Nadia Durrani, writer on archaeology and co-author of a study which explores 'what we did in bed', offering a social history of an often taken-for-granted object. In a story spanning millennia, she illuminates the role of the bed through time, reminding us that it was not always simply a private space for sleep, sex and relaxation; it's also been a place for sharing with strangers, issueing decrees, even taking us to the afterlife. Also, the rise and fall of...
Published 12/30/20
Laurie Taylor talks to Annie Kelly, a researcher of the Digital Far Right, about the QAnon conspiracy theory and why it has attracted a striking number of female followers, many of whom are mothers. She argues that their rhetoric and slogans have cleverly smuggled legitimate concerns about the welfare of children into a baseless and dangerous set of entirely false claims about the nature of child trafficking. What role have social media sites dominated by women played in the circulation of...
Published 12/23/20
The anthropologist, James Suzman, explores the shifting meaning of work, and argues that for 95% of our species' history, it held a radically different importance – it did not determine social status, mould our values or dictate how we spent most of our time. How did it become the central organisational principle of our societies and is it time for a dramatic re-think? Also, Ella Harris, Leverhulme Fellow in the Geography department at Birkbeck, University of London, examines ‘pop up...
Published 12/16/20
DIRT: Laurie Taylor explores its material & symbolic meanings. Stephanie Newell, Professor of English at Yale University, traces the ways in which urban spaces and urban dwellers come to be regarded as dirty, as exemplified in colonial and postcolonial Lagos,Nigeria. They’re joined by Lucy Norris, Guest Professor of Design Anthropology and Material Culture at the Weissensee School of Art and Design, Berlin, who asks if the resistance to recycled clothes relates to our fear that they may...
Published 12/09/20
TEA
TEA: A dark history. Laurie Taylor talks to the historian, Seren Charrington-Hollins, about the exploitation, wars & intrigue at the heart of the history of that most 'British' hot beverage. Also, Sarah Besky, Associate Professor in the Departments of International and Comparative Labour & Labour Relations, Law, and History in at Cornell University, discusses her study of mass market black tea, one of the world’s most recognized commodities, and one which is still rooted in the...
Published 12/02/20
Gambling: Laurie Taylor talks to Rebecca Cassidy, Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, about her research into a pastime which was once a criminal activity but is now a respectable business run by multinational corporations listed on international stock markets. Who are the winners and losers created by this transformation? Also, Emma Casey, Associate Professor of Sociology at Northumbria University, discusses her research on gambling and social mobility....
Published 11/25/20
DEPORTATION: Laurie Taylor explores the lives of people whose criminal convictions have led to them being deported to Jamaica, although many of them left the Caribbean as children and grew up in the UK. Luke de Noronha, Simon Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester, describes the experiences of a group who are regarded as undeserving of sympathy, compared to the victims of the Windrush scandal of 2018. But are such hard and fast divisions fair or...
Published 11/18/20
Corruption: Laurie Taylor talks to Sarah Chayes, writer and former Senior Fellow in the Democracy and Rule of Law programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about the ways in which vested interests have corrupted America - from unjust Supreme Court rulings to revolving doors between the private and state sector - and challenges the notion that this phenomenon is principally caused by wicked individuals lining their own pockets. Instead she reveals a many headed hydra of...
Published 11/12/20
CIVILIANS IN THE LINE OF FIRE: Laurie Taylor talks to Nicola Perugini, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, about the global history of human shields, from civil wars to Black Lives Matters. How have ordinary people come to be both voluntary and involuntary shields for protection, coercion, or deterrence? Also, war lawyers. Craig Jones, Lecturer in Political Geography at Newcastle University, discusses the way in which legal professionals have...
Published 11/04/20
The Rich: Laurie Taylor talks to Rowland Atkinson, Research Chair in Inclusive Societies at the University of Sheffield, about his study of London as an 'Alpha City'. Compared to New York or Tokyo, the two cities that bear the closest comparison, it has the largest number of wealthy people per head of population. Has London been transformed into a 'capital for capital' , marginalising the needs of the majority of its population? They're joined by the historian and sociologist, Rainer...
Published 10/28/20
Fashion & VIP parties - Laurie Taylor explores the hidden stories behind the glamour and wealth. He's joined by Giulia Mensitieri, Social Anthropologist and Ethnologist Research Fellow at the Université Paris Nanterre, and author of a study which investigates the fashion industry and uncovers the harsh and exploitative realities which lurk beneath the glittering façade. Also, Ashley Mears, Associate Professor in Sociology at Boston University, describes the exclusive global nightclub...
Published 10/21/20
REVOLUTION: Are all radical upheavals in the social, economic and political order destined to fail? Laurie Taylor talks to Daniel Chirot, Herbert J. Ellison Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Washington, about his study into why so many of the iconic revolutions of modern times have ended in bloody tragedies. Does radical idealism inevitably have tragic consequences? Also, the Rojava Revolution, how a region in Northwestern Syria, has become the site of...
Published 10/16/20
Elites: Laurie Taylor explores the anti elitism which has become a common staple of media commentary and political rhetoric. He talks to Eliane Glaser, Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and author of a new study arguing that we are taking aim at the wrong enemy and confusing a corporate elite, which does pose a threat to many of us, with people who make our lives worth living, even save our lives – from doctors and lawyers to writers and artists. Are we letting the ‘real’...
Published 10/07/20
CARS: How do cars transmit our identities behind the wheel? Laurie Taylor explores the meaning of cars from Bradford to China. Yunis Alam, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bradford, discusses his study of car ownership amongst Bradfordians of Pakistani heritage. How do cars project status, class, taste and racial identity? Also, Jun Zhang, Assistant Professor of Asian and International Studies at City University of Hong Kong, describes the rise of car consumption in China...
Published 09/30/20