72 episodes

What makes you … you? And who tells what stories and why?

In the fifth season of the SAPIENS podcast, listeners will hear a range of human stories: from the origins of the chili pepper to how prosecutors decide someone is a criminal to stolen skulls from Iceland. Join Season 5’s host, Eshe Lewis, on our latest journey to explore what it means to be human.

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human, is produced by House of Pod and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. SAPIENS is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

For more information, visit sapiens.org

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human SAPIENS

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 195 Ratings

What makes you … you? And who tells what stories and why?

In the fifth season of the SAPIENS podcast, listeners will hear a range of human stories: from the origins of the chili pepper to how prosecutors decide someone is a criminal to stolen skulls from Iceland. Join Season 5’s host, Eshe Lewis, on our latest journey to explore what it means to be human.

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human, is produced by House of Pod and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. SAPIENS is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

For more information, visit sapiens.org

    Learning from Handy Primates

    Learning from Handy Primates

    Many of our primate relatives use tools. How do they use them? And why?And what do these skills mean for understanding tools across the animal kingdom, including for us humans?In this episode, host Eshe Lewis delves into a conversation with Kirsty Graham, an animal behavior researcher. Kirsty explains how primates such as chimpanzees use tools to forage. Such innovative methods to access food reflect the basic yet profound necessities that drive tool innovation. Contrasting these findings with tool use in Homo sapiens highlights a vast range of purposes tools serve in human life.Kirsty Graham is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of St Andrews in the U.K. Their research focuses on the gestural communication of wild bonobos. They conducted fieldwork in Indonesia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before their Ph.D., they worked as a field assistant at Wamba, Democratic Republic of Congo, for the Max Planck Institute and studied at Quest University Canada, specializing in research at the Caño Palma Biological Station in Costa Rica.Check out these related resources:
    "Tools of the Wild: Unveiling the Crafty Side of Nature"
    "How Apes Reveal Human History"
    "Meet the Ancient Technologists Who Changed Everything"
    "The First Butchers"

    • 29 min
    Moving Through Deaf Worlds

    Moving Through Deaf Worlds

    Why do people migrate from one country to another, leaving behind friends, family, and familiarity in search of another life elsewhere? And how might their experiences look different if they are deaf? Ala’ Al-Husni is a deaf Jordanian who moved to Japan five years ago, where he still lives with his deaf Japanese wife and their family just outside of Tokyo.Reported by Timothy Y. Loh, a hearing anthropologist who researches deaf communities in the Arabic-speaking Middle East, this episode explores the joys, pains, and unexpected gains of Ala's journey and the meaning of deaf migration in a globalizing world.Timothy Y. Loh is an anthropologist of science and technology, and a Ph.D. candidate in history, anthropology, and science, technology, and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. His ethnographic research examines sociality, language, and religion in deaf and signing worlds spanning Jordan, Singapore, and the United States. His research has been published in Medical Anthropology, SAPIENS Anthropology Magazine, and Somatosphere, and he has received support from the Social Science Research Council, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation, among others.We thank Annelies Kusters, Laura Mauldin, and Kate McAuliff for advice on accessibility for this episode.Check out these related resources:

    The MobileDeaf Project, Heriot-Watt University
    “Building the Tower of Babel” and “Deaf cosmopolitanism”

    Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India by Michele Friedner
    "How Deaf and Hearing Friends Co-Navigate the World"

    Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity edited by H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray

    • 34 min
    Untangling the World’s First-Known String

    Untangling the World’s First-Known String

    At the Abri du Maras site in southern France, archaeologists recovered twisted plant fibers dating back 50,000 years, suggesting Neanderthals had knowledge of plant materials and the seasonal cycles necessary for making durable string. This finding challenges a view of Neanderthals as simplistic and inferior to modern humans, highlighting their sophisticated use of technology and deep environmental knowledge. In this episode, Bruce Hardy discusses with host Eshe Lewis the oldest piece of string on record and how it reshapes our understanding of Neanderthals.This story not only delves into the technical aspects of making ancient string but also underscores the broader implications for appreciating Neanderthal ingenuity.

    • 35 min
    In Search for the First Cyborg

    In Search for the First Cyborg

    These days, a mention of cyborgs often conjures images from a science fiction future: robot arms and legs, infrared eyes, and other modified humans. However, we don’t need to look into the future to find cyborgs. In many ways, people today are already cyborgs. We are deeply intertwined with technology—from the clothes we wear to the structures we live in. But when did our relationship with technology start? Who was the first cyborg?

    These questions take us from the present to the deep past, with host Eshe Lewis joining Cindy Hsin-yee Huang, a Paleolithic archaeologist, on a journey to ponder cyborg anthropology, tool use, and the relationship between our ancient hominin ancestors and their technologies.

    Cindy Hsin-yee Huang is a doctoral candidate in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University and affiliated with the Institute of Human Origins. Cindy is a Paleolithic archeologist, with a focus on stone tools and cultural evolution. Her research, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, uses stone tools in the archeological record to investigate large-scale patterns of innovation and cultural diffusion during the ancient past. This work helps us understand how technology impacted, facilitated, and reflected human evolution, migration, and social interactions.

    Check out these related resources:


    Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence by Andy Clark
    A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century by Donna Haraway
    “Tools of the Wild: Unveiling the Crafty Side of Nature”
    Amber Case: We're Already Cyborgs
    A Different Kind of Animal: How Culture Transformed Our Species by Robert Boyd

    • 32 min
    Black Influencers Beyond the Screens

    Black Influencers Beyond the Screens

    Anuli Akanegbu is the host of BLK IRL, an audio docuseries. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at New York University, conducting research on Black creatives who are contract workers in Atlanta, Georgia. In conversation with SAPIENS’ podcast host, Dr. Eshe Lewis, Anuli delves into the historical and current successes and struggles of Black influencers, content creators, and artists for labor rights and recognition.

    Through in-depth ethnographic interviews, Akanegbu’s work emphasizes the importance of acknowledging people’s humanity behind their digital personas. It reveals the complex realities of Black professionals in creative industries. And as a result, her research challenges us to rethink our assumptions about the online/offline dichotomy—and the possibility of a joyous and unified “life ecosystem.”

    This episode is part of the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship program, which provides in-depth training for anthropologists in the craft of science communication and public scholarship, funded with the support of a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

    • 34 min
    Cultures of Technology: Season 7 Trailer

    Cultures of Technology: Season 7 Trailer

    Since the dawn of our species, the ability to make things has made us who we are. Human-made objects, large and small, have enabled and molded evolutionary forces, sparked and expressed our imagination, guided and structured social relations, transformed and destroyed the environment–and much more.

    This season of the podcast looks at how a wide range of technologies—from smartphones to comic books to cooking to hydroelectric dams—are intertwined with our lives. Anthropologists’ stories from around the globe reveal fascinating insights into human evolution, social organization, communication, historical trajectories, and the interface between the living and the dead.

    Join Season 7’s host, Dr. Eshe Lewis, on our latest journey to tackle big questions about cultures of technology and the purpose, limits, and possibilities of such material culture.



    SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human is produced by House of Pod. The executive producers are Cat Jaffee and Chip Colwell. This season’s host is Eshe Lewis, who is the director of the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship program. Dennis Funk is the audio editor and sound designer. Christine Weeber is the copy editor.

    SAPIENS is an editorially independent magazine of the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the University of Chicago Press. SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

    This episode is part of the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship program, which provides in-depth training for anthropologists in the craft of science communication and public scholarship, funded with the support of a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

    • 1 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
195 Ratings

195 Ratings

Lynn HC ,

Learn so much

Every episode contains many gems of interesting information I wouldn’t hear anywhere else. These podcasts open my mind to different points of view in a very accessible and meaningful way.

GoSapien ,

Wow!

This season is off the hook. Such an amazing season filled with so much wisdom and knowledge and depth. I miss Chip and Jen. But I’m loving the new voices. And continuing to learn.

COHOCO ,

Insightful, fascinating and entertaining.

Truly exceptional content- a joy to listen to. Can’t wait for new episodes. Thank you, Sapiens, for this one of a kind pro-human podcast.

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