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The Mau Mau rebellion — a revisionist history

How does history get rewritten? How do victimizers become victims, and the valiant turn into villains? As Harvard history professor Caroline Elkins has learned, this process can be a hazardous one. The Pulitzer prize-winning author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya devoted many years to the study of the Mau Mau uprising in the early 1950s, and the British response,  a model of counter-insurgency technique — or so she thought.

The Mau Mau were a group of native Kenyans who turned to violence and terror to drive out their colonial British masters, but as Elkins discovered, they weren’t the only ones to use such tactics.  Now a court case will decide where the truth actually lies, as you will hear in this Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and  Harvard Extension School.

For an audio version of this story, click here: to listen. (6:50 mins).

Posted on November 1, 2011 in Faculty Insight, Front Page, Harvard Luminaries, History
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Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a hero, or a villain?

In this sixth installment of Faculty Insight, produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School, ThoughtCast speaks with Allan Ryan, the director of intellectual property at Harvard Business School Publishing, a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on the First Amendment and Media Litigation, and an instructor at Harvard Extension School.

The subject is a sensitive one for journalists: Is Julian Assange one of us? Does WikiLeaks serve a legitimate news-gathering purpose, or is it a dangerous, possibly illegal website that spreads official secrets without due diligence or consideration of the consequences?
Let us know what you think!

Posted on August 14, 2011 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, Politics, Public Media
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Honor and Fair Play in Homer’s Iliad

Note: the audio version of this interview was broadcast on the WGBH sister stations WCAI/WNAN, and also on KUT in Austin, Texas!

In this fifth installment of Faculty Insight, produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School, ThoughtCast speaks with the esteemed Harvard classicist Gregory Nagy about one of the earliest and greatest legends of all time: Homer’s epic story of the siege of Troy, called The Iliad. It’s a story of god-like heroes and blood-soaked battles; honor, pride, shame and defeat.
In this interview, we dissect a key scene in The Iliad, where Hector and Achilles are about to meet in battle. Athena is also on hand, and she plays a crucial if underhanded role, with the grudging approval of her father, Zeus.
And Nagy is of course the perfect guide to this classic tale. He’s the director of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC, as well as the Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard.

We spoke in his office at Widener Library.

Click here: to listen to a longer audio version of this interview! (9 minutes)

Posted on July 12, 2011 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Literature, Poetry
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Creativity and Madness – with Shelley Carson

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School. This fourth interview of the series is with Shelley Carson, an associate of Harvard University’s Department of Psychology, a lecturer at Harvard Extension School, and also a blogger for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post!

Carson’s scholarship focuses largely on the connection between creativity and mental illness. While it’s common knowledge that artists and writers have a tendency towards depression (and drink!) only recently has the link been so clearly established.
But Carson also argues that creativity is not just the province of an elect few, it’s a trait that, with a bit of effort, we can all claim for ourselves.  Her new book, called Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity and Innovation in Your Life, lays out a clear method for awakening and encouraging our own inherent creativity.
Carson’s expertise also extends to the subject of resilience, and if there’s anything this planet needs, it’s the ability to bounce back, and live to fight another day.  Her research has also caught the attention of the Department of Defense, where she consults on web-based PTSD treatments for soldiers recovering from trauma.

This video of our interview is only an introduction, so….
Click here to hear the entire conversation! (13 minutes)

Posted on March 5, 2011 in Faculty Insight, Psychology
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Faculty Insight: Islam in the West – a clash of civilizations?

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard University Extension School. This third interview of the series is with Jocelyne Cesari, a level-headed yet astute specialist in contemporary Islamic society. Muslims who live in the Western world today face multiple challenges — suspicion, isolation, ignorance, fear. And post-9/11, of course, they carry the weight of that violent attack. So how are we to move forward, in an enlightened, inclusive manner? How ought we to apply our secular, humanist and individualistic values at such a time?

For starters, let’s listen to Jocelyne Cesari. She might not have all the answers, but as the director of the inter-faculty Islam in the West Program, she’s clearly the right person to ask. She is also an associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for European Studies at Harvard, and teaches in Harvard’s Department of Government, its Divinity School and its Extension School. This video of our interview is only an introduction, so….
Click here to hear the entire conversation! (16 minutes)

Posted on December 17, 2010 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Politics, Religion
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Faculty Insight: Nuclear strategy in the post-cold war world

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School. This second interview of the series is with nuclear strategist Thomas Nichols, who is a professor at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island, a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at Harvard Extension School. He speaks with ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh about the conflict with North Korea, the potential for nuclear terrorism, and the reduction of nuclear stockpiles in the post-cold war world.

Posted on September 23, 2010 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, Politics
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