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#228: New Name for an Old Ceremony

Long before the current spate of legislation aimed at transgender people—and long before 1492—people who identified as neither male nor female, but both, flourished across hundreds of Native communities in the present-day United States. Called aakíí'skassi, miati, okitcitakwe, and other tribally specific names, these people held important roles both in ceremony and everyday life, before the violence wrought by Europeans threatened to wipe them out. In his new book, Reclaiming Two-Spirits, historian Gregory Smithers sifts through hundreds of years of colonial archives, art, archaeological evidence, and oral storytelling to reveal how these Indigenous communities resisted erasure and went on to reclaim their dual identities under the umbrella term “two-spirit.”


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Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek and sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society.


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11/11/2022

#256: The Abortion Underground

The Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation, codenamed “Jane,” performed an estimated 11,000 low-cost abortions in Chicago in the years immediately preceding the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Jane began in 1969 as a counseling service that connected people with doctors willing to terminate their pregnancies. But soon enough, its members started assisting with the procedures, and by the end of 1971, were themselves providing as many as 90 abortions a week in addition to basic gynecological care. None of the Jane volunteers—all of them women—were doctors. They simply believed that women should take reproductive care into their own hands, as they had done for centuries prior to the advent of bans on abortion. In The Story of Jane, activist Laura Kaplan tells the story of the legendary service, of which she herself was a member. Go beyond the episode:Laura Kaplan’s The Story of JaneWatch Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes’s 2022 documentary about the group, The JanesYou still might be able to catch the new feature film Call Jane, directed by Phyllis Nagy, in theatersIn December, the FDA permanently allowed abortion pills to be delivered by mail, which it had previously restrictedNew underground networks are smuggling abortion pills north across the Mexican border into Texas and California, from which they can be mailed anywhere in the United StatesListen to “Free, Legal, On Demand,” our interview with Tamara Dean on the ubiquity—and safety—of 19th-century abortionListen to our interview with Scott Stern about the decades-long U.S. government plan to imprison “promiscuous” womenTune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google PlayHave suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.
11/4/2022

#255: Tulsa 2022

In 1921, white citizens of Tulsa burned down the Black neighborhood of Greenwood, killing hundreds of residents, ruining dozens of businesses, and destroying a community of 10,000. For generations, the history was buried, surfacing only through the determined research of a professor here or a novelist there; it wasn’t until 2001 that the state of Oklahoma commissioned a report revealing the extent of the damage. One hundred years on, the Tulsa massacre is the most infamous of a number of 20th-century efforts by white mobs to destroy Black communities. RJ Young, author of the memoir Let It Bang and a Fox Sports analyst, offers his perspective in Requiem for the Massacre, both as a native Tulsan deeply embedded in its present and as a Black writer conflicted by the tone of the centennial events a year ago.Go beyond the episode:RJ Young’s Requiem for the Massacre: A Black History on the Conflict, Hope, and Fallout of the 1921 Tulsa Race MassacreFor more history on the violence in Tulsa, read Scott Ellsworth’s The Ground Breaking; Cameron McWhirter’s Red Summer details the unprecedented anti-Black riots and lynchings of 1919“How HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ Brought the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre to Life;” a descendent of the massacre reflects on watching the show Just this week, even more unmarked graves were discovered in Tulsa’s Greenwood CemeteryTune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • AcastHave suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.
10/28/2022

#254: For the Love of Horror

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