In conjunction with the Black History Month, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition has released the first two podcasts for its new “Slavery and Its Legacies” series.
The biweekly podcast, hosted by staff members of the center, will explore the past and present of slavery, as well as its place in the modern society, through interviews with visiting scholars, activists and Yale faculty. Each 25-30-minute podcast will focus on topics ranging from the interviewees’ books to the nature of their research and their career. The new media initiative started last year when the center received a grant from the Minneapolis-based Robina Foundation, according to GLC’s director and history professor David Blight. He added that Robina’s grant will also fund documentary film production and fellowships for people working in the field of digital humanities.
The podcasts were released on SoundCloud, where the first was listened to 269 times, the second 140 times as of Monday night, and Yale’s iTunesU Channel, which sees a weekly traffic of about 30,000 visitors.
“Basically, what we are doing is interviewing every person that comes through our center,” Blight said. “It is an attempt to bring the scholarship, the research and the works of people who come through our center and who study slavery and abolition all over the world to broader audiences and to do it in this new media form.”
The two released podcasts discuss the work of Mathias Rodorff, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Munich and a visiting fellow at GLC, in investigating the reasons why Nova Scotian newspapers paid such close attention to the contest over the issues of slavery, emancipation and equality, as well as the work of social justice activist Bryan Stevenson with the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization in Alabama that provides legal assistance to prisoners who may have been unfairly convicted.
According to Thomas Thurston, GLC’s education director, topics in future podcasts will include emancipation in Jamaica; African American refugee camps during the Civil War; and the abolitionist movement in Brazil. They will also feature political science and anthropology professor James Scott GRD ’67 and Isela Gutierrez, an associate research director for Democracy North Carolina who Thurston interviewed about her organization’s work to protect the citizens of North Carolina against legislative actions and court decisions designed to abridge the right to vote.
The name of the series itself, Blight said, allows the team to discuss the topic in a broad way.
“It is possible we may try to do one [podcast] with someone once the Calhoun college renaming process is finally finished, but I’m not sure yet,” he said. “Depends on the outcome, which we’re about to find out.”
Compared to other multimedia projects the center carried out before, the creation of the podcasts involves more people, according to Thurston. The recording takes place at the Yale Broadcast Center, which also handles the production. The GLC has also hired a media project manager, Daniel Vieira, to work on the podcasts and other initiatives.
Thurston said the center has currently focused solely on podcasts because they are less expensive and time-consuming than videos.
“[We] think the podcast format is best for conversations with scholars and activists,” Thurston said. “It allows the listener to listen in while walking around town, working out or puttering around the house.”
Philip Kearney, studio operations manager at the Yale Broadcast Studios said the format of a podcast allows faculty and visiting speakers to expand upon their interests in a “more relaxed conversational” setting.
New episodes of the podcast will be posted on alternate Mondays.