255 episodes

Past Present brings together three historians to discuss what's happening in American politics and culture today. Natalia, Neil, and Niki bring historical insights to the news of the day, offering listeners an alternative to the reflexive and polarized world of punditry. Interested in the world around you but exhausted by rote reactions and partisan talking points? You've come to the right place.

Past Present Niki, Neil, and Natalia

    • News
    • 4.7 • 352 Ratings

Past Present brings together three historians to discuss what's happening in American politics and culture today. Natalia, Neil, and Niki bring historical insights to the news of the day, offering listeners an alternative to the reflexive and polarized world of punditry. Interested in the world around you but exhausted by rote reactions and partisan talking points? You've come to the right place.

    Episode 246: Jessica Krug and Racial Identity Theft

    Episode 246: Jessica Krug and Racial Identity Theft

    In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the racial dissembling of historian Jessica Krug.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    George Washington University historian Jessica Krug has been posing as a Black woman for years, and recently outed herself online. Neil referred to Martha Sandweiss’ book, Passing Strange: A Gilded Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line. Natalia referenced this interview with Rachel Dolezal.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia discussed the controversy over enforcing “video-on” while teaching remotely. Neil shared about Matthew Gilbert’s Boston Globe article, “The Brits do crime shows really, really well.” Niki recommended John Hodgman’s book, Vacationland, as well as his podcast, Judge John Hodgman.

    • 36 min
    Episode 245: Ron Jeremy and the Adult Film Industry's #MeToo Problem

    Episode 245: Ron Jeremy and the Adult Film Industry's #MeToo Problem

    In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss new charges of sexual assault against porn actor Ron Jeremy.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    More than a dozen women have come forward to accuse porn actor Ron Jeremy of sexual assault. Natalia referred to historian Estelle B. Freedman’s book, Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation and to Lorelei Lee’s personal essay about sex work in n+1.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia discussed this petition put forth by the New York City dance community. Neil shared about the HBO documentary, Welcome to Chechnya. Niki recommended Nellie Bowles’ New York Times article, “God Is Dead. So is the Office. These People Want to Save Both.”

    • 44 min
    Episode 244: Lovecraft Country

    Episode 244: Lovecraft Country

    In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the new HBO series, Lovecraft Country.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    Lovecraft Country is attracting attention for its blend of historical drama and horror. Niki discussed this hybrid genre, as explained at Vox. She also mentioned the documentary, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. Neil compared Lovecraft Country to Colson Whitehead’s recent novel, The Underground Railroad. Natalia referred to this history of the “sundown town” at Slate and to historian Allyson Hobbs’ work on The Negro Motorist Green Book.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia recommended the Netflix series, Selling Sunset. Neil reflected on Jerry Falwell Jr.’s resignation as president of Liberty University amid an alleged sex scandal. Niki discussed Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s new book, Big Friendship.

    • 40 min
    Episode 243: The 2020 Democratic National Convention

    Episode 243: The 2020 Democratic National Convention

    In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    This week, the Democratic Party is holding its national convention – entirely online. Neil referred to Ed Kilgore’s New York magazine article about the role of television in shaping conventions.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia recommended Teresa Ghilarducci’s Bloomberg Opinion piece, “Remote College is Still More Valuable than a Gap Year.” Neil shared the new podcast series, “Forgotten: Women of Juárez.” Niki discussed Jaya Saxena’s Atlas Obscura article, “Rhode Island Has One Great Culinary Invention, and it’s Coffee Milk.”

    • 37 min
    Episode 242: The Biden-Harris Ticket

    Episode 242: The Biden-Harris Ticket

    In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    Kamala Harris is the 2020 Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Niki wrote about the significance of her candidacy for Inside Story magazine. Natalia referenced historian Martha Jones’ Washington Post essay; Niki referred to Jamelle Bouie’s New York Times op-ed on Harris’ blackness. Natalia cited this Jacobin article criticizing Harris and to pieces like this one paying new attention to the 1948 vice-presidential candidacy of Charlotta Bass. We previously discussed Kamala Harris on Episode 195 last year.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia shared Evgenia Peretz’s Vanity Fair article, “Keeping Up with the Millers: Stephen Miller and his Wife, Katie, Found Love in a Hateful Place.” Neil recommended Padma Lakshmi’s new Hulu show, “Taste the Nation.” Niki discussed the Luminary podcast, “Fiasco.”

    • 35 min
    Episode 241: QAnon

    Episode 241: QAnon

    In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    Spread online, QAnon is a conspiracy theory that claims “deep state” traitors, connected to a cabal of pedophiles, are plotting to undermine President Trump and the United States. Niki and Neil referred to Adrienne LaFrance’s Atlantic essay contextualizing “Q”’s prophecies. Natalia referred to this Rolling Stone article about the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s role in the QAnon imagination.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia recommended Irina Aleksander’s New York Times Magazine article, “Sweatpants Forever.” Neil discussed the controversy over Ellen DeGeneres’ behavior on set – and how her celebrity defenders aren’t helping her case. Niki talked about Barrett Swanson’s New Republic article, “What I Learned From the Worst Novelist in the English Language.”

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
352 Ratings

352 Ratings

Trinchuckle ,

Good podcast

Entertaining, informative, interesting perspectives

Edogfemme ,

Long time listener

I’ve been listening to Past/Present for 2 years, often with my kids. I’m very entertained and engaged with the discussion about current events and how they connect to history. Keep up the fun and informative discussions.

hoooo2394 ,

Annoying voices

Natalia pronounces every ‘k’ sound like ‘ch,’ as in Scottish ‘loch.’ Chhhultural.
Nicole has very unfortunate vocal fry, and a tendency to sort of snicker when discussing America’s racist past, eg making beaches more white.
Neil is the least prolific of the trio, but at least his voice doesn’t make me want to claw off my ears.

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