Benjamin Breen on Margaret Mead, Psychedelics, and Utopia

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape | 26 February 2024 | 1h 13m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Benjamin Breen about his book Tripping on Utopia: Margaret Mead, the Cold War, and the Troubled Birth of Psychedelic Science. Discusses the role of Margaret Mead, and her onetime-husband Gregory Bateson, in social anthropology and its impact on sex & gender mores, the early psychedelic drugs and their potential use for therapeutic purposes, and how the possibility of a realistic utopia didn’t always seem so far away.

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Charles King on Gods of the Upper Air

AMSEcast | 1 January 2024 | 0h 38m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Charles King about his book Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century. Discusses the history of the development of cultural anthropology; key figures like Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Zora Neale Hurston; and how they shifted our understanding of societies from being in a hierarchy from primitive to advanced to being relative and based on the history and circumstances of their people.

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Brian Villmoare on The Evolution of Everything: The Patterns and Causes of Big History

New Books Network | 3 April 2023 | 1h 00m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Brian Villmoare about his book The Evolution of Everything: The Patterns and Causes of Big History. Traces the forces shaping the history of the world and the natural forces shaping humanity. Casts transformations in agriculture, the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and modernity in the context of underlying changes in demography, learning, and social organization.

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Omer Moav on the Emergence of the State

EconTalk | 6 March 2023 | 1h 02m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Omer Moav about his paper The Origin of the State: Land Productivity or Appropriability?, co-authored with Joram Mayshar and Luigi Pascali. Argues that it wasn’t farming but the farming of storable crops (but not others) that led to hierarchy and the State. Also discusses why it’s important to understand the past and the challenges of confirming or refuting theories about history.

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Anthropologist Wade Davis Discusses His Life and Work

New Books in Anthropology | 5 May 2021 | 1h 24m | Listen Later | Spotify
Interview with Wade Davis about his life, work, and the back stories of his books. Discusses his research in anthropology and ethnobotany, Haitian ‘zombie poison’ and its setting in African religion and culture, his writing process and academic writing, key mentors, private funding, and more.

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Michael Hathaway – What a Mushroom Lives For

Princeton UP Ideas Podcast | 8 August 2022 | 1h 07m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Michael Hathaway about his book What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make. Tells the story of the matsutake mushroom, revealing the complex, symbiotic ways that mushrooms, plants, humans, and other animals interact. Considers how the world looks to the mushrooms, as well as to the people who have grown rich harvesting them.

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Manvir Singh: Going Beyond the Nomadic-Egalitarian Model of Hunter-Gatherers

The Dissenter | 17 June 2022 | 1h 09m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Manvir Singh about his paper Human Social Organization During the Late Pleistocene: Beyond the Nomadic-Egalitarian Model. Argues that some of our late Pleistocene forbears lived in large, sedentary, dense communities, not just as nomadic-egalitarian hunter-gatherers. Discusses the nomadic-egalitarian hunter-gatherer model, his diverse histories model, the implications it has for our evolved psychology, and how we think about evolutionary mismatches; how human societies get organized; the origins of agriculture; the transition to large-scale agricultural societies, and non-agricultural state societies; the sympathetic plot in fiction, and its psychological origins; and the functionality of beliefs.

I nearly missed this episode – don’t make that mistake – it is truly excellent. I suggest checking out his writing. I also recommend Razib Khan’s interview.

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