History Talk from Origins

Leticia Wiggins and Patrick Potyondy

Smart conversations about today’s most interesting topics - a history podcast for everyone, produced by Ohio State's Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective.

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Origins Podcast
10:49 am
Fri March 15, 2013

The Human Use of Human Beings: A Brief History of Suicide Bombing

Hamas claimed responsibility for this 1996 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 26 Israelis in addition to the Palestinian bomber. The phenomenon of suicide bombing remains poorly understood by most Americans.

Since the attack on the World Trade Center in on September 11, 2001 the world has grown accustomed to reports of "suicide bombers." They are often portrayed as deluded or crazed, and they hold an almost lurid fascination for their willingness to kill themselves while killing others. This month, historian Jeffrey William Lewis puts what many of us see as a recent phenomenon in a longer historical perspective.

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Origins Podcast
2:13 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Who Owns the Nile? Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s History-Changing Dam

A rendering of the Grand Renaissance Dam under construction in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile. Its completion is expected to profoundly change the allocation of water resources in Africa.

Egypt and Sudan are utterly dependent on the waters of the Nile River. Over the past century both of these desert countries have built several dams and reservoirs, hoping to limit the ravages of droughts and floods which have so defined their histories.

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Origins Podcast
10:35 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Should Age Matter? How 65 Came to Be Old and Old Came to Be Ill

In 1942, when this photograph of an elderly Mennonite couple was shot in Pennsylvania, science and medicine were transforming the idea of old age by extending life expectancies and curing chronic disease.
Credit U.S. government photographer Marjory Collins

Baby boomers, 78 million strong, are turning 65 at a rate of 4 million per year. The press, the government, and the medical community claim, often and loudly, that these numbers augur a mass dependency crisis. Such spokesmen envision a world of decrepit elders afflicted with chronic disease slurping their way through the country’s resources. This month historian Tamara Mann explores how, in the United States, the so-called “geriatric crisis” is less related to age itself than to the relationship between old age and government funds, particularly Medicare.

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Origins Podcast
10:30 am
Sat December 15, 2012

Democratizing American Higher Education: The Legacy of the Morrill Land Grant Act

The Great Dome at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the nation's first land-grant institutions and now, 150 years later, a leader in providing free online courses.

In May 2012, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a partnership to offer on-line courses, free to anyone anywhere in the world. There is a historical resonance in MIT's involvement in the MOOC (massive open on-line courses) movement. MIT is a land-grant university and the announcement came during the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act which created the land-grants. Arguably the greatest democratization of higher education in history, the Morrill Act stressed that higher education should be practical and that it should be accessible. This month historian David Staley looks back over the 150 year history of this experiment in state-funded, democratic higher education.

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Origins podcast
11:38 am
Thu November 15, 2012

"Merchants of Death": The International Traffic in Arms

This detail from an early-20th-century image over the entrance to an arms factory in Belgium depicts a European arms manufacturer selling a gun to a darker-skinned purchaser in an exotic setting. International arms merchants have a long history of complicity in Third World violence.

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As we try to sort out the causes and consequences of armed conflicts around the globe, we seldom ask the question: where do all those weapons come from that make these wars possible? With the United States racking up a record shattering $66.3 billion in overseas weapons sales last year, the question has become even more pressing. This month, historian Jonathan A. Grant looks at the history of the governments and individuals who have created a global trade in armaments. Except when they run afoul of the law, as Russian arms dealer Victor Bout did in 2011, these men tend to operate out of public view but the impact they have had on societies around the world is hard to over-estimate.

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