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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: October, 2023
Oct 30, 2023

Two things you probably don’t know: 1) your favorite museum probably holds human remains and 2) it’s completely legal to sell human bones on the internet. Not surprisingly, those two things have caused a lot of controversy. In this episode, Tanya Marsh joins Ben for a conversation about recent developments in the legal-social-political nexus of dead bodies; the controversy surrounding the acquisition and treatment of human remains in American museums and what we’ll simply call “the Harvard morgue case.”

 

Tanya Marsh is Professor of Law at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in the law of human remains. She is the author of The Law of Human Remains (2015) and co-author (with Daniel Gibson) of Cemetery Law: The Common Law of Burying Grounds in the United States (2015).

 

This episode was edited by Ben Sawyer.

 

Articles mentioned in this episode:

Zachary Small, “Facing Scrutiny, a Museum That Holds 12,000 Human Remains Changes Course,” New York Times, Oct. 15, 2023.

 

Alyssa Shotwell, “Activists Took Over Museum After Victims’ Bodies of the 1985 Philadelphia Bombing Found,” The Mary Sue, Sept. 15, 2023.

 

Abby Patkin, ”Group indicted for allegedly stealing and selling body parts from Harvard morgue,” Boston.com, June 15, 2023.

 

Tanya Marsh, “Is it Illegal to Sell Human Remains,” The Conversation, June 30, 2023.

 

 

 

Oct 23, 2023

When Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, he and many others assumed that Russia’s “special operation” would end in a quick victory. Eighteen months later, an independent Ukraine stands strong, while Russia’s position has grown so weak that Putin has begun working to develop closer ties with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Why has Ukraine been so resilient, and why has Putin remained committed to a war that has done so much damage to Russia? The answer has everything to do with the ways those on both sides of the conflict understand history.

 

In this episode, historian Serhy Yekelchyk joins Ben to discuss the history of Russia and Ukraine, and how understanding the war on the battlefield requires understanding the conflicting historical narratives embraced by those on both sides.

 

Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk is Professor of History and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria. A native of Kiev, Serhy has published extensively on Ukranian history, including The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2020) and Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation (Oxford University Press, 2007).

 

We’d like to give a special thanks to the Strickland family for establishing the Strickland Distinguished Lecture Series at Middle Tennessee State University, which brought Dr. Yekelchyk to MTSU’s campus, and to Emily Baran and Lynn Nelson for their help in arranging this recording.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.  

Oct 16, 2023

FBI agent Robert Hanssen was one of the most damaging spies in US history. From 1979 to 2001, Hanssen delivered some of the United States governments’ most sensitive secrets to Soviet and Russian agents, who used them to not only undermine US national security, but to identify and execute individuals who were working with the FBI. And despite an awareness of spies working within the FBI, Hanssen managed to operate for more than two decades before finally getting caught.

 

In this episode we speak with CBS News’ Major Garrett, whose new podcast Agent of Betrayal: The Double Life of Robert Hanssen, explores Hanssen’s decision to spy on the US and how he managed to operate for so long without being caught. A thoroughly researched history with all the turns of a great true crime podcast, we think you’ll enjoy Agent of Betrayal, available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 9, 2023

From its founding in 1970, Rounder Records was different. What started as the passion project for three New England music lovers who wanted to preserve and proselytize folk and roots music, eventually grew into a record label with an eclectic catalogue featuring long-forgotten bands, promising musicians such as George Thorogood and Allison Krauss, and even an album just called “Hollerin’” (which is exactly what it says it is). Along the way, Rounder Records became indispensable in transforming American folk music. In this episode, we learn more about the history of Rounder Records from music historian David Menconi, author of the new book Oh, Didn’t They Ramble: Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music (UNC Press, 2023).

 

You can hear David Menconi’s playlist of key tracks from the Rounder catalogue on Spotify by clicking here.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Oct 2, 2023

In the late 18th century, tens of millions of buffalo lived in North America. By the mid-1880s, they were on the brink of extinction. For the white settlers who sought to “conquer” the American west, and the Native people whose way of life depended on them, the plight of the American Buffalo was more than a story of one species of animal. As Dayton Duncan writes in the prologue of his new book Blood Memory,  the buffalo has “emerged as an embodiment of the nation’s contradictory relationship with the natural world: venerated and mercilessly destroyed, a symbol of both a romanticized frontier and the callous conquest of a continent.” In this episode, Dayton joins us for a conversation about the Buffalo (aka American Bison) and how the story of one animal can tell us so much about American history.

 

Dayton Duncan is an Emmy award-winning writer whose most recent collaborations with filmmaker Ken Burns are the book Blood Memory: The Tragic Decline and Improbable Resurrection of the American Buffalo (Alfred A. Knopf, 2023) and the new documentary The American Buffalo, which premieres on your local PBS station on Monday, October 16, 2023 (check your local listings).

 

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our previous conversation with Dayton Duncan in RTN #229 on Benjamin Franklin.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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