Untangling the World’s First-Known String
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
1w ago
At the Abri du Maras site in southern France, archaeologists recovered twisted plant fibers dating back 50,000 years, suggesting Neanderthals had knowledge of plant materials and the seasonal cycles necessary for making durable string. This finding challenges a view of Neanderthals as simplistic and inferior to modern humans, highlighting their sophisticated use of technology and deep environmental knowledge.  In this episode, Bruce Hardy discusses with host Eshe Lewis the oldest piece of string on record and how it reshapes our understanding of Neanderthals.This story not only delves int ..read more
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Black Influencers Beyond the Screens
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
2w ago
Anuli Akanegbu is the host of BLK IRL, an audio docuseries. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at New York University, conducting research on Black creatives who are contract workers in Atlanta, Georgia. In conversation with SAPIENS’ podcast host, Dr. Eshe Lewis, Anuli delves into the historical and current successes and struggles of Black influencers, content creators, and artists for labor rights and recognition. Through in-depth ethnographic interviews, Akanegbu’s work emphasizes the importance of acknowledging people’s humanity behind their digital personas. It reveals ..read more
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Cultures of Technology: Season 7 Trailer
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
1M ago
Since the dawn of our species, the ability to make things has made us who we are. Human-made objects, large and small, have enabled and molded evolutionary forces, sparked and expressed our imagination, guided and structured social relations, transformed and destroyed the environment–and much more. This season of the podcast looks at how a wide range of technologies—from smartphones to comic books to cooking to hydroelectric dams—are intertwined with our lives. Anthropologists’ stories from around the globe reveal fascinating insights into human evolution, social organization, communication, h ..read more
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Weaving Stories: Two Women Speak
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
6M ago
We turn from Margaret Mead’s and Derek Freeman’s conflicting accounts of adolescence and sexuality in Samoa to more stories from Samoans themselves.  Author and poet Sia Figiel and activist and anthropologist Doris Tulifau are two Samoan women from different generations. Yet they share a bond and have a similar experience of terrible violence and survival.  They bravely give us a glimpse into the dynamics of power within sexuality and their heartfelt journey of reclaiming it. Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the Nat ..read more
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Sex, Lies, and Science Wars
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
6M ago
After Derek Freeman publishes Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, the controversy heats up. Op-eds, documentaries, censure by a leading anthropological organization, and even a debate on the Phil Donahue Show all follow.  Was Margaret Mead, “the grandmother of the world,” wrong? Or was Freeman?  At stake was the heart of an academic discipline and the nature of being human. Mead’s own daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, launches a defense, and other anthropologists weigh in too. Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS ..read more
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Bonus: Flemmie Kittrell and the Preschool Experiment
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
6M ago
SAPIENS is happy to present this bonus episode from Lost Women of Science about another path-breaking thinker. In the 1960s, a Black home economist at Howard University recruited kids for an experimental preschool program. All were Black and lived in poor neighborhoods around campus. Flemmie Kittrell had grown up poor herself, just two generations removed from slavery, and she’d seen firsthand the effects of poverty. While Flemmie earned a PhD from Cornell, most of her siblings didn’t make it to college. One of her sisters died at just 22 years old of malnutrition. And it was the combination o ..read more
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Into the Light
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
6M ago
The first missionary arrived in Samoa in 1832, almost a century before Margaret Mead set out to study the culture of the islands. By the time she arrived, the church had been a central part of Samoan life for generations. In this episode, Doris Tulifau explores how Christianity and colonization complicate Mead’s—and her critic Derek Freeman’s—conclusions and continue to shape Samoan identity today. Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities ..read more
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Trashing an American Icon
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
7M ago
In January 1983, the front page of The New York Times read: “New Samoa Book Challenges Margaret Mead’s Conclusions.”  Anthropologist Derek Freeman had been building his critique of Mead for years, sending her letters and even confronting her in person. Freeman’s resulting book, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, was published five years after Mead died.  Who was Freeman and why did he take such issue with Mead’s work in American Samoa? Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the Na ..read more
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We Need to Tell Our Own Stories
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
7M ago
Sparked by a provocative encounter in American Samoa, Doris Tulifau explores modern-day Samoan attitudes toward Margaret Mead. With a mix of voices and opinions, we encounter three loud ideas around Mead’s work, ultimately dropping us at the doorstep of Derek Freeman’s central critique about Samoan culture and society. Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities ..read more
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Flapper of the South Seas
SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human
by SAPIENS
7M ago
In 1925, Margaret Mead set sail for American Samoa. What she claimed she found there—teenagers free to explore and express their sexuality—instantly captivated her audience in the U.S. Her book became a bestseller, and Mead skyrocketed to fame.  But what were her actual methods and motivations? We trace Mead’s legendary nine-month journey in the South Pacific. Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities ..read more
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