100 episodes

Interviews with Historians about their New Books

New Books in History New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 3.9 • 132 Ratings

Interviews with Historians about their New Books

    Dinyar Patel, "Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism" (Harvard UP, 2020)

    Dinyar Patel, "Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism" (Harvard UP, 2020)

    In the wake of a rise in nationalism around the world, and its general condemnation by liberals and the left, we have put together this series on Third World Nationalism to nuance the present discourse on nationalism, note its centrality to anti-imperial, anti-colonial politics around the world, and its inextricability from mainstream politics in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
    In this episode we speak to Dinyar Patel, author of Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism (Harvard UP, 2020)--the definitive biography of Dadabhai Naoroji, the nineteenth-century activist who founded the Indian National Congress, was the first British MP of Indian origin, and inspired Gandhi and Nehru.
    Mahatma Gandhi called Dadabhai Naoroji the “father of the nation,” a title that today is reserved for Gandhi himself. Patel examines the extraordinary life of this foundational figure in India’s modern political history, a devastating critic of British colonialism who served in Parliament as the first-ever Indian MP, forged ties with anti-imperialists around the world, and established self-rule or swaraj as India’s objective.
    Naoroji’s political career evolved in three distinct phases. He began as the activist who formulated the “drain of wealth” theory, which held the British Raj responsible for India’s crippling poverty and devastating famines. His ideas upended conventional wisdom holding that colonialism was beneficial for Indian subjects and put a generation of imperial officials on the defensive. Next, he attempted to influence the British Parliament to institute political reforms. He immersed himself in British politics, forging links with socialists, Irish home rulers, suffragists, and critics of empire. With these allies, Naoroji clinched his landmark election to the House of Commons in 1892, an event noticed by colonial subjects around the world. Finally, in his twilight years he grew disillusioned with parliamentary politics and became more radical. He strengthened his ties with British and European socialists, reached out to American anti-imperialists and Progressives, and fully enunciated his demand for swaraj. Only self-rule, he declared, could remedy the economic ills brought about by British control in India.
    Naoroji is the first comprehensive study of the most significant Indian nationalist leader before Gandhi.
    Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.
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    • 1 hr 31 min
    Covell F. Meyskens, "Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Covell F. Meyskens, "Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    In 1964, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) made a momentous policy decision. In response to rising tensions with the United States and Soviet Union, a top-secret massive military industrial complex in the mountains of inland China was built, which the CCP hoped to keep hidden from enemy bombers. Mao named this the Third Front. The Third Front received more government investment than any other developmental initiative of the Mao era, and yet this huge industrial war machine, which saw the mobilization of fifteen million people, was not officially acknowledged for over a decade and a half. In Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China (Cambridge UP, 2020), Covell Meyskens provides the first history of the Third Front campaign. He shows how the militarization of Chinese industrialization linked millions of everyday lives to the global Cold War, merging global geopolitics with local change.
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    • 1 hr 29 min
    College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom: A Conversation with Eddie R. Cole

    College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom: A Conversation with Eddie R. Cole

    Some of America's most pressing civil rights issues--desegregation, equal educational and employment opportunities, housing discrimination, and free speech--have been closely intertwined with higher education institutions. Although it is commonly known that college students and other activists, as well as politicians, actively participated in the fight for and against civil rights in the middle decades of the twentieth century, historical accounts have not adequately focused on the roles that the nation's college presidents played in the debates concerning racism. Based on archival research conducted at a range of colleges and universities across the United States, The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom (Princeton UP, 2020) sheds light on the important place of college presidents in the struggle for racial parity.
    Focusing on the period between 1948 and 1968, Eddie Cole shows how college presidents, during a time of violence and unrest, strategically, yet often silently, initiated and shaped racial policies and practices inside and outside of the educational sphere. With courage and hope, as well as malice and cruelty, college presidents positioned themselves--sometimes precariously--amid conflicting interests and demands. Black college presidents challenged racist policies as their students demonstrated in the streets against segregation, while presidents of major universities lobbied for urban renewal programs that displaced Black communities near campus. Some presidents amended campus speech practices to accommodate white supremacist speakers, even as other academic leaders developed the nation's first affirmative action programs in higher education.
    The Campus Color Line illuminates how the legacy of academic leaders' actions continues to influence the unfinished struggle for Black freedom and racial equity in education and beyond.
    Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.
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    • 52 min
    Anna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

    Anna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

    Mathematics as a subject is distinctive in its symbolic abstraction and its potential for logical and computational rigor. But mathematicians tend to impute other qualities to our subject that set it apart, such as impartiality, universality, and elegance. Far from incidental, these ideas prime mathematicians and the public to see in mathematics the answers—for example, an impartial arbiter, or a meritocratic equalizer—to many urgent societal questions. Anna Weltman's new book, Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), surveys a number of ways this conception of mathematics has informed scientific undertakings and public policies, not to mention our everyday behaviors, and makes a powerful case for reevaluating its assumptions.
    The book's five chapters contain stories of mathematical exploits from ancient to ongoing and across the spectrum from pure to applied. Many may be familiar, for example active research and journalism into the use and misuse of predictive algorithms or G. H. Hardy's enumeration of the elements of mathematical beauty. Others, including continuing work to interpret Incan documents that survived European colonial erasure and the epidemiological insights obtained from massively multiplayer online gaming, will be new even to many mathematical readers. What they share is the essential but often ignored interplay between theory and culture that makes mathematics a thoroughly human activity. Weltman's book can be read as a call for scholars, educators, and communicators of mathematics to grapple with the power our training and credentialing in mathematics grants us, and to understand that its most basic promise of solving problems is not automatic but one that we must realize.
    Anna Weltman is a math teacher and writer who earned her PhD in mathematics education from the University of California at Berkeley. She is also the author of This Is Not a Math Book and This Is Not Another Math Book.
    Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida.
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    • 1 hr 47 min
    Charles A. Kupchan, "Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Charles A. Kupchan, "Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    In the past few years isolationism, which had long been derided in the national discourse, has been making a comeback as a political force. In Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself from the World (Oxford University Press, 2020), Charles A. Kupchan traces the history of the concept in American politics and considers its future influence on American foreign policy. As he demonstrates, isolationism was long dominant in shaping American foreign policy, as for decades political leaders heeded George Washington’s advice to steer clear of entangling alliances. By the end of the 19th century, however, America’s growing engagement with the world sparked policy shifts as various forms of internationalism were introduced. Though isolationism remained a powerful influence on foreign policy, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 publicly discredited isolationism for millions of Americans, paving the way for the adoption of Franklin Roosevelt’s approach of “liberal internationalism.” While this remained the consensus approach through the Cold War, Kupchan shows how the post-Cold War overreach of American foreign policy offered new life to isolationist concepts, giving it a renewed influence shaping America’s relationship with the world.
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    • 47 min
    Anjali Vats, "The Color of Creatorship: Intellectual Property, Race, and the Making of Americans" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Anjali Vats, "The Color of Creatorship: Intellectual Property, Race, and the Making of Americans" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    The Color of Creatorship: Intellectual Property, Race, and the Making of Americans  (Stanford University Press, 2020) by Anjali Vats is an intricate and meticulously researched text on intellectual property history, race, and citizenship from the 1790s to the present. This is a complex narrative that engages multiple fields of knowledge including rhetoric, history, communication studies, law, and critical race theory. With a focus on race and neo-coloniality in American intellectual property law, Vats argues that intellectual property and citizenship “have evolved and continue to evolve—in deeply intertwined and raced ways” as demonstrated in racial scripts or narratives about creators and infringers (2).
    In her history of intellectual property, Vats focuses on copyright, patent, and trademark discourses in her intricate analysis of how ideas about creator, citizenship, race and nation unfold over time. The text includes an “Introduction” that discusses intellectual property as “a set of rhetorics” about citizenship and how “race and coloniality structure doctrinal practices in copyright, patent, and trademark law” (3). She uses the phrase “intellectual property citizen” to organize the text into four neat chapters that discuss how whiteness and property interests shape intellectual property law at times in the “guise of equality” and race neutral language.
    The first two chapters cover the development of ideas about intellectual property from the early Republic to the mid-twentieth century. Chapter One is titled “The Intellectual Property Citizen” and it focuses on how whiteness became more formally linked with citizenship in the 1700s including some analysis of how the production of knowledge marked the boundaries of American citizenship. This is the era in which creatorship is cast as “fundamentally white” according to the author. Chapter Two is titled “The Race Liberal Intellectual Property Citizen” and it concerns a discussion of how race liberal citizenship emerged in the post-World War II Era.
    In Chapter Three, “The Post Racial Intellectual Property Citizen” Vats notes that the administration of Barack H. Obama passed a series of laws that helped to maintain a notion of white creatorship ultimately producing a post racial intellectual property citizen. The color of creatorship essentially remained white during the Obama Era. Lastly, in the final Chapter “Rescripting Creatorship, Rescripting Citizenship” creators of color such as Prince Rogers Nelson pushed back against the racialist narratives in intellectual property law through performative acts of resistance and in the process contributed to the remaking of capitalism more generally.'
    Anjali Vats is Assistant Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies and Assistant Professor of Law (by courtesy) at Boston College.
    Hettie V. Williams Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of African American history in the Department of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University where she teaches courses in African American history and U.S. history. She has published book chapters, essays, and edited/authored five books. Her latest publications include Bury My Heart in a Free Land: Black Women Intellectuals in Modern U.S. History (Praeger, 2017) and, with Dr. G. Reginald Daniel, professor of historical sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union (University Press of Mississippi 2014). Follow me on twitter: @DrHettie2017
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    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5
132 Ratings

132 Ratings

Nick Naque ,

Get better interviewers

The books and authors covered in the podcast are ver interesting. But the people conducting the interviews are adequate at best and not infrequently embarrassing.

Poochman! ,

SOUND QUALITY IS HORRIFIC

Trying to listen to Alan Taylor's Thomas Jefferson’s Education which sounded fascinating but gave up given the astoundingly poor audio quality. It's 2020. There's absolutely no reason New Books in History can't make the effort to ensure its podcasts are listenable. Such a waste of a great opportunity.

btkjg ,

Ryan Tripp Is The Best Interviewer!

Ryan Tripp asks specific questions that are really pivotal for the arguments and evidence. He lets authors skip questions and doesn’t interrupt. Highly recommended!

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