342 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 • 388 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 333: The Monkeypox Outbreak

    Episode 333: The Monkeypox Outbreak

    In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the outbreak of monkeypox in the United States.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    Monkeypox is the latest disease to concern the American public. Niki cited this Stat News article, and Natalia referred to historian Jim Downs’ Atlantic essay about the historical continuities with the HIV-AIDS virus.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia discussed her latest “Quick Study” column for Observer, “American Childhood As We Knew It Is Over.” Neil recommended the Instagram account, A History of Dogs. Niki discussed her latest CNN column, “This is so much worse than Watergate.”  

    • 39 min
    Episode 332: Religious Schooling and Church-State Separation

    Episode 332: Religious Schooling and Church-State Separation

    In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court decision that overturns Maine’s ban on giving public funds to private religious schools.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    In a victory for proponents of school choice and a major weakening of church-state separation, Maine will now be required to provide state funding to religious schools. Neil cited this Slate article about the ruling, and Natalia drew on this City Journal piece.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia discussed Amanda Mull’s Atlantic article, “Fashion Has Abandoned Human Taste.” Neil recommended Hugh Ryan’s book, The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison. Niki shared about Patricia Bell-Scott’s book, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice.

    • 48 min
    Episode 331: The Tampon Shortage

    Episode 331: The Tampon Shortage

    In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the national tampon shortage and the history of feminine products.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    A national tampon shortage has until recently been dismissed as a minor inconvenience or even a punchline. We all drew on this Smithsonian history of menstrual products. Niki referred to this Atlantic essay on the history of the tampon, and Natalia to Lara Freidenfelds’ book, The Modern Period: Menstruation in Twentieth-Century America.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia shared about ProPublica’s new study of adult literacy and referred to this New York Times article about challenges to a popular literacy program. Neil recommended Sasha Issenberg’s book, The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage. Niki discussed Christopher Mathias’ HuffPost article, “Living With the Far-Right Insurgency in Idaho,” and her own column for CNN, “Arrests at Idaho Pride Event Could Be a Harbinger of Things to Come.”

    • 38 min
    Episode 330: Summer Weddings and June Brides

    Episode 330: Summer Weddings and June Brides

    In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the long American tradition of June weddings.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    June wedding season is upon us, and after two years of delayed celebrations, it is especially packed. Natalia referred to this Harper’s Bazaar photo essay about representation and same-sex marriage, and to this Buzzfeed article, which is useful despite repeating a myth about bathing practices being related to June wedding date selection. Niki referred to this Atlantic article on the relationship between marriage, weddings, and adulthood.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia recommended Molly Worthen’s New York Times guest essay, “400 Years Ago They Would Be Witches. Today They Can Be Your Coach.” Neil shared about the HBO Max series, “It’s A Sin.” Niki recommended Rebecca Traister’s article for The Cut, “The Institutionalist: Where Did it All Go Wrong?”

    • 49 min
    Episode 329: Uvalde, Texas and the Persistence of American Gun Violence

    Episode 329: Uvalde, Texas and the Persistence of American Gun Violence

    In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    Yet another mass shooting, this one at a Texas elementary school, highlights the unique American obsession with gun rights. Niki referred to this NPR piece on the tape recording of NRA leadership after the 1999 Columbine school shooting, and Natalia drew on Susie Linfield’s New York Times guest essay on the photography of graphic violence.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia recommended this Kathryn Fiona Substack interview with a former Johnny Depp supporter, shared by technology writer Kat Tenbarge. Neil discussed Penelope Green’s New York Times obituary of Margot Heuman. Niki shared Maris Kreizman’s Esquire article, “The Legacy of Gone Girl.”  

    • 49 min
    Episode 328: Cryptocurrency

    Episode 328: Cryptocurrency

    In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the cryptocurrency craze.
    Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast
    Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: 
    The crash of TerraLuna is proving “crypto” to be both more than a passing trend and less than the miracle its boosters once promised. We recommended Kevin Roose’s “Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto” in the New York Times. Niki drew on this History News Network article to link crypto enthusiasm to other financial bubbles, and Natalia referred to James Ledbetter’s FIN Substack This 2013 (early) history of Bitcoin from New York Times provided useful context for all of us. Niki also recommended David Yaffe-Bellany’s New York Times piece, “Ben McKenzie Would Like a Word with the Crypto Bros,” and the Crypto Island podcast.  
    In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
    Natalia talked about Amy Odell’s new book, Anna: The Biography. Neil discussed Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s Washington Post article, “Southern Baptist Leaders Covered Up Sex Abuse, Kept Secret Database, Report Says.” Niki recommended Maureen Ryan’s Vanity Fair article, “The Great Pottery Throwdown is a Balm for a Weary Age.”

    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
388 Ratings

388 Ratings

Dg811981 ,

Great podcast

I love this podcast. It’s always thought provoking - putting today’s events in a historical context.

Rinermo ,

Great!

I love this podcast. I’ve been listening to it for some time and never miss a week. I was almost relieved when they changed the format from three topics to one a week. It was A LOT. And now they go into greater depth on one important issue. My only criticism is that a couple of the podcasters use “like” too much. They could clean that up easily. Great podcast!

naomicanfly ,

Love this show!

I’ve been a regular listener for more than a year. They are smart, interesting, and relevant without being too “newsy” so it’s a nice break without being disconnected from what’s happening now. As an anthropologist, I appreciate exploring current events from a cultural and historic context.

Top Podcasts In News

The New York Times
NPR
The Daily Wire
Serial Productions
The Daily Wire
Crooked Media

You Might Also Like

NPR
CAFE
WNYC Studios
NPR
Jody Avirgan & Radiotopia
The New York Times