We try to make sense of Asian culture and politics by exploring the continent's history. We start in the present, then we methodically travel back in time. All regions will be covered. Beginner friendly, but only when listened to in proper order.
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Rags to riches. The Early Muslim Conquests. part 1/2.
In this episode, we discuss why the Arabians could take over the Middle-East right after they accepted Islam.
Geography's revenge. Arabia since the 9th century.
Arabia is one of only a handful of regions that were never colonized (with the exception of Aden). Not because it's impossible to unlock, but because nobody really bothered. There were only two periods in history when Arabia was of global importance: the last time was due to the discovery of oil, the first time was the result of the emergence of Islam. During the millennium in between these short periods, its unhabitable environment condemned Arabia to obscurity. Only the coastal regions were in regular contact with the outside world. In the isolated mountains of Yemen and Oman, like in the barren deserts of central Arabia, unorthodox movements flourished: hyper-conservative Sunnism, Ibadism and Zaydism.
We try to explain their emergence by focussing on their environment.
The episode is named after an influential but highly controversial book by Robert Kaplan.
Non-fossil fuels. Slavery in Arabia since the 16th century.
The show discusses to what extend the historical practice of slavery resonates in today’s Arabia. We shall focus on a part of the peninsula that usually doesn’t get the attention it deserves: Oman. The Omanis used to have a maritime empire that stretched all the way from Somalia to Mozambique. Its most important economic activity was the slave trade.
Used works will, as always, appear on Facebook.
The rise of Wahhabism. Arabia since the 18th century.
In today’s episode, we’ll explore the origins of the puritanical form of Islam, commonly known as Wahhabism. We’ll see that the bond between the Wahhabis and the Saudis goes back a very long time. We also place these topics in a broader context: the rise of the West, and the ways the rest of the world adapted to it.
Now it's personal!
Bonus episode. A short recap of the previous episodes, looking at 20th century Arabia through a different lens: the "big man" theory of history. Napoleon made history, but he was also a product of history himself. So too with the Saudi kings and the Bin Ladens.
The Founding Fathers. Arabia since the 20th century
This time we focus on the first half of the 20th century. We discuss the founding of Saudi-Arabia. We also see why Oman and North Yemen would become tempting targets in the Arab cold war. And we contemplate an alternative history in which Arab lands were undivided.
Forgotten, intriguing history
His episodes 3-4 on the Middle East are fascinating history you will not get from the news or from Israel-Palestine centric histories