66 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 • 193 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

    Can We Understand One Another?

    Can We Understand One Another?

    Hosts Kate Ellis and Doris Tulifau explore the perils and possibilities of the kind of fieldwork that defined Margaret Mead as an anthropologist. They provide answers to the Mead-Freeman controversy but also ask the questions that remain. 

    In this season finale, we circle back to the problems with coming of age … in Samoa and everywhere.

    Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 30 min
    Weaving Stories: Two Women Speak

    Weaving Stories: Two Women Speak

    We turn from Margaret Mead’s and Derek Freeman’s conflicting accounts of adolescence and sexuality in Samoa to more stories from Samoans themselves. 

    Author and poet Sia Figiel and activist and anthropologist Doris Tulifau are two Samoan women from different generations. Yet they share a bond and have a similar experience of terrible violence and survival. 

    They bravely give us a glimpse into the dynamics of power within sexuality and their heartfelt journey of reclaiming it.

    Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 30 min
    Sex, Lies, and Science Wars

    Sex, Lies, and Science Wars

    After Derek Freeman publishes Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, the controversy heats up. Op-eds, documentaries, censure by a leading anthropological organization, and even a debate on the Phil Donahue Show all follow. 

    Was Margaret Mead, “the grandmother of the world,” wrong? Or was Freeman? 

    At stake was the heart of an academic discipline and the nature of being human. Mead’s own daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, launches a defense, and other anthropologists weigh in too.

    Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 28 min
    Bonus: Flemmie Kittrell and the Preschool Experiment

    Bonus: Flemmie Kittrell and the Preschool Experiment

    SAPIENS is happy to present this bonus episode from Lost Women of Science about another path-breaking thinker.

    In the 1960s, a Black home economist at Howard University recruited kids for an experimental preschool program. All were Black and lived in poor neighborhoods around campus.

    Flemmie Kittrell had grown up poor herself, just two generations removed from slavery, and she’d seen firsthand the effects of poverty. While Flemmie earned a PhD from Cornell, most of her siblings didn’t make it to college. One of her sisters died at just 22 years old of malnutrition. And it was the combination of these experiences that drove Flemmie to apply her academic training to help improve the lives of people in her community.

    In the early 1960s, Flemmie decided to see what would happen if you gave poor kids a boost early in life, in the form of a really great preschool. Every day for two years, parents would get free childcare, and their kids would get comprehensive care for body and mind—with plenty of nutritious food, fun activities, and hugs. What kind of difference would that make? And would it matter later on?

    • 38 min
    Into the Light

    Into the Light

    The first missionary arrived in Samoa in 1832, almost a century before Margaret Mead set out to study the culture of the islands. By the time she arrived, the church had been a central part of Samoan life for generations.

    In this episode, Doris Tulifau explores how Christianity and colonization complicate Mead’s—and her critic Derek Freeman’s—conclusions and continue to shape Samoan identity today.

    Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 23 min
    Trashing an American Icon

    Trashing an American Icon

    In January 1983, the front page of The New York Times read: “New Samoa Book Challenges Margaret Mead’s Conclusions.” 

    Anthropologist Derek Freeman had been building his critique of Mead for years, sending her letters and even confronting her in person. Freeman’s resulting book, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, was published five years after Mead died. 

    Who was Freeman and why did he take such issue with Mead’s work in American Samoa?

    Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
193 Ratings

193 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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