300 episodes

The Inquiry gets beyond the headlines to explore the trends, forces and ideas shaping the world.

The Inquiry BBC Podcasts

    • News
    • 4.6 • 10 Ratings

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The Inquiry gets beyond the headlines to explore the trends, forces and ideas shaping the world.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    What’s going on with the pyramids?

    What’s going on with the pyramids?

    One of the most famous of Egypt’s pyramids, Menkaure’s pyramid on the Giza plateau, is the subject of controversy after the Egyptian authorities announced plans to restore it in what the country’s Head of Antiquities has called “the project of the century” and Egypt’s “gift to the world”.

    But not everyone believes such a restoration is in keeping with the demands of proper archaeological preservation.
    The plans met with opposition from archaeologists and Egyptologists both inside and outside the country. The project has now been paused after recommendations from a scientific committee commissioned by the Egyptian authorities.
    So what’s going on with the pyramids?
    Presenter: Gary O’Donoghue
    Producer: Louise Clarke
    Researcher: Matt Toulson
    Editor: Tara McDermott
    Technical producer: Nicky Edwards
    Production co-ordinator: Liam Morrey
    Contributors:
    Aidan Dodson, honorary Professor of Egyptology at Bristol university in the UK
    Dr Jennifer Hellum, senior lecturer in classics and ancient history at the University of Auckland in New Zealand
    Heba Saleh, Cairo correspondent for the Financial Times
    Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo
    Photo by KHALED ELFIQI/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock via BBC Images

    • 23 min
    Can Europe reverse its falling fertility rates?

    Can Europe reverse its falling fertility rates?

    Across the world fertility rates are falling and for the first time Europe is experiencing a sustained population decline. The average fertility rate for the European Union is 1.53 live births per woman. In Italy the fertility rate has remained low for the last thirty years, with an average 1.3 births per woman.
    Some governments, who are concerned that not enough people are being born to keep their economies functioning in the long term are spending billions on incentives and policies to try and reverse the trend. But even in the Nordic countries, which are noted for some of the best family focused policies, these are proving ineffective against a markedly high drop in fertility rates over the last decade.
    Society’s attitudes on when or whether to start a family are shifting, so does this mean that we need to change the way we approach the issue or even adapt to a future with fewer people?
    On this week’s Inquiry, we’re asking ‘Can Europe reverse its falling fertility rates?’
    Contributors:
    Anna Rotkirch, Research Director, Population Research Institute, The Family Federation of Finland, Helsinki
    Michael Herrmann, Senior Advisor on Economics and Demography, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Turkey
    Arnstein Aassve, Professor of Demography, Political Science Centre, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy
    Tomas Sobotka, Deputy Director, Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of Sciences
    Presenter: Charmaine Cozier
    Producer: Jill Collins
    Journalism Researcher: Matt Toulson
    Editor: Tara McDermott
    Technical Producers: Nicky Edwards and Toby James
    Production Co-ordinator: Liam Morrey
    Image Credit: PA via BBC Images

    • 23 min
    Who will be next to walk on the moon?

    Who will be next to walk on the moon?

    In the next two or three years America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA - plans to send a mission into space that will land people on the moon for the first time in over a half a century.
    The mission has already been pushed back and is widely expected to be delayed again.
    But America is not alone. Both China and India also have ambitions to land people on the lunar surface.
    Who is next to walk on the moon is driven by geopolitics and a desire to harness the moon’s resources. Different countries, and even the private companies involved, all have different agendas. Who gets there first may even determine the political ideology of any future permanent human settlement.
    Contributors:
    Oliver Morton, Senior Editor at The Economist and author of The Moon, A History for the Future
    Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica
    Christopher Newman, Professor of space law and policy at Northumbria University
    Namrata Goswami, Professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University
    Presenter: Tanya Beckett
    Producer: Louise Clarke
    Journalism Researcher: Matt Toulson
    Editor: Tara McDermott
    Technical Producer: Richard Hannaford
    Production Coordinator: Liam Morrey
    Image: U.S. Flag On The Moon by Encyclopaedia Britannica via Getty Images
    Credit: NASA Youtube Channel

    • 23 min
    Are Ethiopians losing faith in their Orthodox Church?

    Are Ethiopians losing faith in their Orthodox Church?

    The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church - once a powerful marker of nationhood - is deeply split as result of the recent civil war in Tigray which exacerbated historical tensions in the church.
    The Church, which traces its history to the fourth century, was once the biggest denomination in Ethiopia with nearly 44 percent of the population calling themselves Orthodox Christians, but now its centrality in Ethiopian spiritual and political life - once unquestioned - appears to hang in the balance, with a steady increase in the number of people joining other denominations and the number of people calling themselves Orthodox Christians diminishing.

    Ethiopia is a modern state, with the second largest population in Africa, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019. But months after he took power, Ethiopia was ripped apart by a civil war which broke out in November 2020 and left tens of thousands of civilians dead. In May 2021, four archbishops in Tigray announced that they were forming an independent structure. They accused the church of not opposing the war - and of being too close to Abiy Ahmed's government.

    Although a ceasefire was agreed in 2022, the recent splits highlight historic ethnic and religious tensions in Ethiopia.
    Contributors:
    Ralph Lee: Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in the UK.
    Mebratu Kelecha: London School of Economics. His research focuses on conflict, peace building and democracy.
    Yohannes Woldemariam: US-based academic specialising in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.
    Jorge Haustein: Associate Professor of World Christianity at the University of Cambridge.
    CREDITS
    Presenter: Audrey Brown
    Producer: Philip Reevell.
    Researcher: Matt Toulson
    Technical Producer: Nicky Edwards.
    Production Coordinator: Tim Fernley
    Editor: Tara McDermott
    Main Image: Ethiopian Orthodox priests walk around the church during the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
    Image Credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba\AFP via Getty

    • 23 min
    Can the Vatican stop Nicaragua’s Catholic crackdown?

    Can the Vatican stop Nicaragua’s Catholic crackdown?

    After serving nearly a year of his 26 year sentence for treason in a Nicaraguan jail, Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa was flown to Rome in January. The high profile bishop known as an outspoken critic of President Ortega’s Sandinista government has been under house arrest since August 2022. He was allowed to leave the country alongside his supporter Bishop Isidoro Mora and a group of priests and seminarians, after a request from the Vatican.

    It’s the latest development in a relationship between Nicaragua and the Holy See that has grown increasingly tense. President Ortega has had a complicated relationship with Nicaragua’s Catholic clergy ever since he first came to power in the 1979 revolution. It was with the help of the Church that Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2006, but as his rule became increasingly more authoritarian he steadily repressed any sort of opposition, including critical voices from within the clergy.

    Mass peaceful protests over social security reforms in 2018 ramped up the repression from the Ortega government in the following years. Opposition leaders, journalists, and prominent leaders from within the R.C.Church were amongst those expelled or advised to leave the country and some like Bishop Álvarez were even imprisoned.

    The situation has left the Catholic Church in a difficult position. There are no diplomatic ties now between Nicaragua and the Holy See and since the end of the Cold War it appears that the international community has found more pressing concerns. Nicaragua’s Catholic neighbours may have the country on their radars, but how willing they are in supporting the Pope over his concerns for Nicaragua’s Catholic population remains to be seen.
    So, this week on The Inquiry we’re asking ‘Can the Vatican stop Nicaragua’s Catholic crackdown?
    Contributors:
    Brandon Van Dyck, Associate Director of the Princeton Initiative in Catholic Thought, The Aquinas Institute, New Jersey, USA
    Bianca Jagger, President of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Executive Directors Leadership Council of Amnesty International, London
    Andrea Gagliarducci, Vatican Analyst, EWTN /ACI Group, Rome, Italy
    Ryan Berg, Director, Americas Programme, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, USA
    Presenter: Tanya Beckett
    Producer: Jill Collins
    Researcher: Matt Toulson
    Editor: Tara McDermott
    Technical Producer: Cameron Ward
    Broadcast Co-ordinator: Tim Fernley
    Image Credit: Mireya Acierto\Getty

    • 24 min
    What does Iran want?

    What does Iran want?

    After months of tension and hostility in the Middle East over the Gaza-Israel conflict, Iran has publicly stated its desire to avoid a regional conflict. It has however displayed its military force on several fronts.
    There have been missile strikes. Iran targeted militant bases in western Pakistan leading to a retaliatory back-and-forth with Pakistan. With attacks on Iraq and Syria, Tehran said it was targeting Islamic State and Israel's Mossad spy agency - both of whom it claimed were behind the deadliest domestic attack on Iranian soil since the Islamic revolution – an attack in early January that killed almost a hundred people in the southern city of Kerman.
    Iran has been using proxy groups too - the so-called “Axis of Resistance” – to carry out attacks on Israel and its allies to show solidarity with the Palestinians. The axis is a grouping of Iran-backed militant groups including Houthi militants in Yemen who have been responsible for disrupting shipping in the Red Sea and have been targeted by US and UK air strikes aimed at deterring them. Other members of the axis include Hezbollah in Lebanon and various groups in Syria and Iraq. Tehran insists that the groups act independently but that the coalition shares its goals. Iran’s stated aim is to roll back US influence in the Middle East and it stands ideologically opposed to Israel.

    Iran’s grown closer to China and Russia too, the latter more so since the start of the Ukraine war in 2022. What does Iran hope to gain from these relationships?
    We also ask how Iran wants the current Israel-Gaza conflict to end.
    So this week on The Inquiry we’re asking ‘What does Iran want?’
    Experts:
    Negar Mortazavi, Iranian journalist and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy.
    Kirsten Fontenrose is a non-resident fellow at the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs.
    Professor Maryam Alemzadeh, Associate Professor in History and Politics of Iran at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA) and a Middle East Centre Fellow.
    Suzanne Maloney is the vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where her research focuses on Iran and Persian Gulf energy.
    CREDITS:
    Presenter: Charmaine Cozier
    Producer: Philip Reevell
    Researcher: Matt Toulson
    Production Coordinator: Tim Fernley
    Editor: Tara McDermott
    Technical Producer: Nicky Edwards
    Image: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei
    Image Credit: Anadolu/Getty

    • 23 min

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