53 episodes

Interviews with Archaeologists about their New Books

New Books in Archaeology New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 5 Ratings

Interviews with Archaeologists about their New Books

    David Carballo, "Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    David Carballo, "Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Mexico of five centuries ago was witness to one of the most momentous encounters between human societies, when a group of Spaniards led by Hernando Cortés joined forces with tens of thousands of Mesoamerican allies to topple the mighty Aztec Empire. It served as a template for the forging of much of Latin America and initiated the globalized world we inhabit today. The violent clash that culminated in the Aztec-Spanish war of 1519-21 and the new colonial order it created were millennia in the making, entwining the previously independent cultural developments of both sides of the Atlantic.
    Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain (Oxford University Press, 2020) provides a deep history of this encounter, one that considers temporal depth in the richly layered cultures of Mexico and Spain, from their prehistories to the urban and imperial societies they built in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Leading Mesoamerican archaeologist David M. Carballo offers a unique perspective on these fabled events with a focus on the physical world of places and things, their similarities and differences in trans-Atlantic perspective, and their interweaving in an encounter characterized by conquest and colonialism, but also resilience on the part of Native peoples. An engrossing and sweeping account, Collision of Worlds debunks long-held myths and contextualizes the deep roots and enduring consequences of the Aztec-Spanish conflict as never before.
    Pamela Fuentes is Assistant Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, Pace University, NYC campus.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Kathryn M. De Luna, "Collecting Food, Collecting People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa" (Yale UP, 2016)

    Kathryn M. De Luna, "Collecting Food, Collecting People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa" (Yale UP, 2016)

    In Collecting Food, Collecting People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa (Yale University Press, 2016), Kathryn M. De Luna documents the evolving meanings borne in the collection of wild foods for an agricultural people in south central Africa around the turn of the first millennium. It is a history of everyday life that bears great insight into how people adapt meaning from different aspects of life to create new forms of social organization. Specifically, her study helps explain how expertise in hunting and gathering became a basis for social status in a decentralized society. In doing so, her study upends long-standing Enlightenment notions about the evolutionary role of agricultural surplus as a driver of social complexity. De Luna is the Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University.
    Paul Bjerk is an associate professor of African History at Texas Tech University, and the author of Building a Peaceful Nation: Julius Nyerere and the Establishment of Sovereignty in Tanzania, 1960-1964 (Rochester University Press, 2015)
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    James C. Scott, "Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States" (Yale UP, 2017)

    James C. Scott, "Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States" (Yale UP, 2017)

    We are schooled to believe that states formed more or less synchronously with settlement and agriculture. In Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (Yale University Press, 2017), James C. Scott asks us to question this belief. The evidence, he says, is simply not on the side of states. Stratified, taxing, walled towns did not inevitably appear in the wake of crop domestication and sedentary settlement. Only around 3100 BCE, some four millennia after the earliest farming and settling down, did they begin making their presence felt. What happened in these four millennia is the subject of this book: a deep history by “a card-carrying political scientist and an anthropologist and environmentalist by courtesy”, which aims to put the earliest states in their place.
    James Scott joins us for the fourth episode of New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science to talk about state fragility and state persistence from Mesopotamia to Southeast Asia, the politics of cereal crops, domestication and reproduction, why it was once good to be a barbarian, the art of provocation, the views of critics, and, human and animal species relations and zoonoses in our epidemiological past and pandemic present.
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    Nick Cheesman is a fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University, and a committee member of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group. He co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asian Studies channel.
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    • 54 min
    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020)
    Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced.
    John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at john.weston@aalto.fi and @johnwphd.
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    • 2 hr
    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day.
    The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education.
    Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia).
    Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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    • 59 min
    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction.
    The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its different sizes, and discover mathematical impossibilities inherent in elections. They will tackle conundrums in probability, induction, geometry, and game theory; perform “supertasks”; build apparent perpetual motion machines; meet twins living in different millennia; explore the strange quantum world―and much more.
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    • 54 min

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