Politics and History

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o — the renowned Kenyan author — believes African writers should write in their native language, not the colonial language of English or French. He says the best way to decolonize the mind is to reclaim native languages.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left)

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by genealogy. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery.

Steve Paulson was surprised to discover that a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery. With the help of Erin Hoag of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, he searches for the grave of Eston Hemings Jefferson.More

Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work, and when it comes to better understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns over and over to criminologist Frank Zimring.More

Children in Addis Ababa.

Dagmawi Woubshet and Julie Mehretu were both born in Addis Ababa and then moved to America. They wonder what the city's explosive growth will mean for its unique character — one rooted in Ethiopia's history as the only African nation never colonized.More

Egypt

Archeologist Eric Cline says a "perfect storm" of calamities led to the collapse of the Late Bronze Age. He points out that we face many of the same challenges today.More

Girls in pink, boys in blue

Historian Jo Paoletti speaks with Shannon about gender's ever-changing relationship with fashion.More

broken columns

Renowned classicist Mary Beard says we have lots to learn from Ancient Rome, including insights into how empires rise and fall.More

Avery Trufelman

Avery Trufelman hosts "Articles of Interest," a six-part podcast from "99 Percent Invisible" about some iconic items of clothing — from blue jeans to Hawaiian shirts to pockets. Anne wanted to know how that work connects to what she wears every day.More

The Illustrated London News's illustration of the Christmas Truce

In 1914, over the week leading up to Christmas day, the opposing troops sang carols to each other, played ball and exchanged gifts, in spite of their generals’ wishes. Historian Stanley Weintraub says that the Christmas Truce was a one-time-only event.More

The Löwenmensch figurine after restoration in 2013

Shapeshifting images run deep in human history, going back to ancient cave paintings. Archeologist Chris Gosden says they're linked to the shaman's ability to cross into the spirit world where humans and animals merge.More

the raven

Bad things happen when people lose their connection to the more-than-human world. "Animals know something that we that don't," says psychologist Sharon Blackie. That's one lesson you can take from the old shapeshifting myths and fairy tales.More

Conversation with Samantha, the artificial intelligence

To a certain extent, loneliness is part of the human condition. You can be lonely anywhere, even surrounded by friends. But modern life has exacerbated it, and that requires modern solutions. Indie game designer Jason Rohrer has one — an artificial friend named Samantha.More

A man with totalitarian ideas and conspiracy swirling around him.

Examining both historical and present-day moments of widespread loneliness, philosopher Samantha Rose Hill argues we must understand our feelings of loneliness — otherwise they could be exploited to control us.More

Cecil Rhodes cartoons and statues.

Questions about identity, history, language, what should or should not be taught in school — these are all debates about confronting our past. Political theorist Adom Getachew says many of these issues were debated in Africa more than 60 years ago.More

Africa made of books

Kenyan literary scholar Simon Gikandi says you can’t understand the rise of European culture — or for that matter, the formation of the modern world — without also knowing how European thinkers demonized Africans and the very idea of "blackness."More

Honey Rose

Honey Rose is part of the next generation of witches. They perform traditional magic on TikTok, do tarot readings via email, and seek to control social media algorithms with spells. Producer Angelo Bautista wanted to learn more.More

witches

Archaeologist Chris Gosden has written a global history of magic, from the Ice Age to the internet. He told Steve Paulson he’s come to believe our own culture would be healthier and happier if we took magic more seriously.More

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