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  • 119: Art student's photo series explores masculine vulnerability

    Brandon Sánchez Mejia stood at a giant wall in UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Art Gallery and couldn’t believe his eyes. In front of him were 150 black-and-white photos of men’s bodies in all sorts of poses and from all sorts of angles. It was his senior thesis project, "A Masculine Vulnerability," and it was out for the world to see."It came from this idea that as men, we are not allowed to show skin as scars or emotions or weakness," said Sánchez, who will graduate from Berkeley this May with a bachelor’s degree in art practice.Sánchez’s cohort is part of the Department of Art of Practice’s 100th year, a milestone that department chair Ronald Rael said is cause for celebration."There have been moments in art practice’s history when it was unclear that art should be at a university at all," said Rael, a professor of architecture and affiliated faculty in art. "And here we are, at 100 years, and it’s one of the most popular majors on campus."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News ( This is a companion podcast to a feature story about Sánchez, published earlier this month on Berkeley News. There, you can view more photos and read about about how Sánchez's mom made him stay inside for a year as a teenager in El Salvador out of fear he'd join a gang. And how, against his mom's wishes and without any money of his own, he decided to pursue an education — no matter what it took. UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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  • 118: Take the first Black history tour at UC Berkeley

    The self-guided Black history tour at UC Berkeley begins at Memorial Stadium, where student Walter Gordon was a star of the football team more than 100 years ago. It then weaves through campus, making stops at 13 more locations, each highlighting an important person or landmark related to Black history.There's Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House, named in honor of the first African American woman to teach in Oakland public schools. Next is Barbara Christian Hall, named for the first Black woman to be granted tenure at Berkeley. Other stops include Wheeler Hall and Sproul Plaza, where Black visionaries, like James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr., gave famous speeches."Just knowing this history, walking around campus and knowing it, you really feel like you belong," said student Daniella Lake, who's on the Black Lives at Cal team that created the tour. "Black people have been here for the past 100 years, and if they were doing all these amazing things then, I can surely do it now."You can find the self-guided Black history tour at Berkeley on Black Lives at Cal’s website. And soon, on the site, you’ll also be able to sign up for upcoming in-person walking tours.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News ( by Blue Dot Sessions.Illustration by Heaven Jones.
  • 117: Bonobos and chimps show 'a rich recognition' for long-lost friends and family

    Bonobos and chimpanzees — the closest extant relatives to humans — could have the longest-lasting nonhuman memory, a study led by a UC Berkeley researcher found. Extensive social memory had previously been documented only in dolphins and up to 20 years."What we're showing here," said Berkeley comparative psychologist Laura Simone Lewis, "is that chimps and bonobos may be able to remember that long — or longer."Berkeley News writer Jason Pohl first published a story about this study in December 2023. We used his interview with Lewis for this podcast episode.Photo courtesy of Laura Simone Lewis.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (
  • Afterthoughts: The true origins of American immigration policy

    Historians have long assumed that immigration to the United States was free from regulation until the introduction of federal laws to restrict Chinese immigration in the late 19th century. But UC Berkeley history professor Hidetaka Hirota, author of Expelling the Poor, says state immigration laws in the country were created earlier than that — and actually served as models for national immigration policy decades later.This is an episode of Afterthoughts, a series that highlights moments from Berkeley Voices interviews that didn’t make it into the final episode. This excerpt is from an interview with Hirota featured in Berkeley Voices episode #115: "They built the railroad. But they were left out of the American story."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News ( by Blue Dot Sessions.Photo from the Library of Congress.
  • 116: How WWII incarceration fueled generations of Japanese American activists

    Today, we're sharing the first episode of the new season of the Berkeley Remix, a podcast by UC Berkeley's Oral History Center. The four-episode season, called "From Generation to Generation: The Legacy of Japanese American Incarceration," centers the experiences of descendants of Japanese Americans incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II. It explores themes of activism, contested memory, identity and belonging, and creative expression as a way to process and heal from intergenerational trauma. This first episode is called "It's happening now: Japanese American Activism."Listen to the podcast and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Artwork by Emily Ehlen.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
  • 115: They built the railroad. But they were left out of the American story.

    The U.S. transcontinental railroad is considered one of the biggest accomplishments in American history. Completed in 1869, it was the first railroad to connect the East to the West. It cut months off trips across the country and opened up Western trade of goods and ideas throughout the U.S.But building the railroad was treacherous, brutal work. And the companies leading the railroad project had a hard time retaining American workers. So they began to recruit newly arrived immigrants for the job, mainly Chinese and Irish. And these immigrants, who risked their lives to construct the railroad, have largely been left out of the story.In recent years, though, there has been a new emphasis on reframing the narrative to include the perspectives, contributions and struggles of railroad workers, not only in scholarship, but in the arts.On Nov. 17, Cal Performances is presenting American Railroad by Silk Road Ensemble, as part of its 2023-24 season of Illuminations: Individual and Community. It's one of several notable works in recent years that explores the lives of the immigrants who built the U.S. transcontinental railroad.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News ( by Silkroad Ensemble and Blue Dot Sessions.Photo courtesy of San Francisco Public Library.
  • 114: Theater as power: New professor brings Caribbean performance practice to Berkeley

    UC Berkeley's first social justice theater professor, Timmia Hearn DeRoy, talks about how Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival practice, rooted in emancipation, drives her work today."Trinidadian Carnival, it’s social justice theater in practice. Every moment, it’s all about emancipation, the subverting of the powerful narrative through humor, through performance, through doublespeak. And it just taught me so much about the possibilities of the art form."Photo courtesy of Timmia Hearn DeRoy.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Listen to the episode, read the transcript and see photos on Berkeley News (