Stories from the margins of history. Join us on the Silk Road and on ocean voyages, with explorers and emperors, traders and healers as they embark on adventures. Our hosts, Mary-Rose Abraham and Gayathri Vaidyanathan, present little-known tales from history, science and cultures to better understand our present. This podcast's immersive audio sounds best using headphones
Chatroom 13: The Case of the Severed Breasts on the Windowsill
On July 1, 1800, the appearance of a pair of severed breasts on Don Cayetano’s windowsill leads to a twisting journey into the history of crime and policing in Guatemala City.
Chatroom 12: The Evolution of Indian Blues, or Bidesia
At the turn of the 20th century, the British took Indian indentured labourers to sugar plantations in Fiji. There, Indian women would sing “bidesia” -- laments for a lost homeland. In this Chatroom, acclaimed Fijian poet-philosopher Sudesh Mishra speaks of bidesia, and also about Fijian indigenous knowledge systems that place humans as part of the planetary assemblage.
Chatroom 11: When Technology Meets Ayurveda
The "epic clash" of traditional medicine vs. Western medicine is really anything but when it comes to treatment. In reality, medical systems have always influenced each other to change and evolve. In this episode, we look at the influence of technology on Ayurveda. It’s a little window into the transformation of India’s indigenous medical system, beginning in the 1860s.
Chatroom 10: Encounters with India's Maneaters
We are increasingly sharing space with predators and wild animals, with deadly consequences... for the animals, that is... not so much the humans.. or, at least that was the case until the pandemic.. Covid is the result of a breaching of ecological boundaries. In this episode, we learn how to co-exist with our fellow animals from Nayanika Mathur
Chatroom 9: Disease Goddesses and Scapegoats
When your village, city or the world are affected by disease, medical treatment is just one intervention. Another is rituals and spiritual practices. Every culture has them. In India, a rich tradition of Disease Goddesses assigned a female deity to each illness. From Hariti and Shitala for smallpox to Ola bibi and Ola devi for cholera -- and Corona devi for our current pandemic -- the goddess was believed both to cause the disease and to protect those who prayed to her. Sometimes the rituals went beyond prayers and pujas to a practice called scapegoating -- symbolically capturing the disease in an object, animal or person and removing them to another location. David Arnold, professor emeritus at the University of Warwick in the U.K., has been studying the history of disease and medicine in South Asia for many years, and explains the phenomenon of the Disease Goddess.
Chatroom 8: A disease sleuth in Bangalore
We follow British scientist Ronald Ross as he tries to stop a cholera outbreak. At first he's stumped. The disease shows up in one place and then jumps to the other end of town. And how to get his hands on a microscope when there's only one in all of South India? Like a good detective, Ross puts the clues together -- quite literally -- into a handmade map and it helps him solve the mystery.