Binder, Mark & Freund, Hugo — Latkes & Turkey: A Holiday Special

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah which means “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. It begins every year on the 25th day of Kislev and usually falls in November or December.  The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, and Hanukkah, often called the Festival of LIghts always starts five days prior to the last new moon before the winter solstice.

Thanksgiving is a celebration common to cultures and religions world wide, often after harvest.  It is held in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November which. 

In this the Hebrew calendar year 5774 and the Gregorian calendar year 2013 these two holidays converge with Thanksgiving falling on the second day of Hannukah.  Thus some people will eat latkas, also known as potato pancakes, with turkey and/or stuffing. 

In this edition of Radio Curious we combine two archive editions and tell the story of two very fun holidays.  We start with our 2011 conversation with Mark Binder, author of “A Hanukkah Present!” followed by a 2002 conversation with Professor Hugo Freund about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States.

We begin with Mark Binder explaining the purpose of telling stories around Hanukkah.

We continue with a 2002 visit about the roots of Thanksgiving with Sociology Professor Hugo Freund recorded in a noise hotel lobby at the American Anthropology Association in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

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Luke, Gregorio — The Day of the Dead

Most countries in the world send ambassadors to talk about and promote what their country is like and to carry on political affairs between and along other nations.  These ambassadors often have assistants known as “cultural attaches.”  They bring and share their nation’s culture, history and the folklore with their host countries. 

The cultural event known as Halloween in the United States is celebrated annually on November 1st as the Day of the Dead in Mexico and other Latin American Counties.

In 1997 Radio Curious invited Gregorio Luke, the cultural attache from the Republic of Mexico based in Los Angeles, California, to our studios when he was the Consul for Cultural Affairs. His job at that time was to broaden the Mexican cultural presence in the United States.

Our conversation began when I asked Gregorio Luke to describe the cultural gaps he sought to bridge in presenting Mexican and to tell us about the Day of The Dead.

The book Gregorio Luke recommends is ”The Crystal Frontier,” by Carlos Fuentes.

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Benally, Leonard — A Navajo Elder Remembered

In this edition of Radio Curious assistant producer Christina Aanestad speaks with Leonard Benally, a Dine’ elder. Dine is the indigenous name for the Navajo people. Leonard Benally lived in an area called Big Mountain on the Navajo and Hopi reservations close to the Arizona-New Mexico border. He died on October 11, 2013 from cancer.

In the 1970’s a Hopi – Navajo land dispute erupted on Big Mountain; some claim it was devised to move the Navajo out of the area because Peabody Coal wanted the coal rich land below their feet. As a result, an estimated 20,000 Dine’ were displaced. A few hundred remain to this day-refusing to leave. Leonard Benally was one of them.  

In August, 2012 Leonard Benally agreed to talk about his life.  He began the conversation by describing the boarding schools he was forced to live in, as a child, one being the school for Navajo children in Tuba, Arizona.

Leonard Benally recommends people listen to XIT an indigenous rock band from the 1970’s. This conversation with Leonard Benally was recorded in August of 2012 and first aired on Radio Curious in October 2013.

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Leinen, George — A Mortician’s Philosophy

Continuing our series on the funeral industry in the United States we visit with the owner of a mortuary in a rural northern California town.  As professionals describe their work and philosophy, George Leinen, owner of Empire Mortuary in Ukiah, California since 2000,  joins us in this edition of Radio Curious to share his thoughts and experiences.  We discuss funeral industry trade associations, business practices in some sectors of the industry, and how our guest’s philosophy evolved.

In this program, recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on September 21, 2013 we began our visit when I asked George Leinen to describe embalming,  what it is, and why it’s done.

The book George Leinen recommends is “The American Way of Death,” by Jessica Mitford.

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Martinez, Juan — Shamanism in the Ecuadorian Jungle

Concepts of “reality” have many levels, some of which are gained by fasting, and/or the use of certain plants that allow a person to view the past, present or  and future.  This is especially true for cultures which cherish and practice the oral tradition and thrive among an abundance of flora and fauna, like those located in the Amazon basin of South America.  In Ecuador the knowledge of the effects of the various plants in the Amazon basin is held by Shamans.

Dr. Juan Martinez, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious, is a Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Cuenca, in Cuenca, Ecuador.  He’s studied, written and lectured about Shamanic practices in the Ecuadorian jungle and the medicinal and spiritual effects of the plants native to the eastern portion of the Amazon basin.

Professor Juan Martinez and I visited in his office in Cuenca, Ecuador on November 17, 2005.  He began by describing the relationship of the people of Ecuadorian jungle to their worlds, the spiritual world, and the world in which they live on a daily basis.

The book Juan Martinez recommends is “Amazon Worlds,” a collected work published by Sinchi Sancha, an indigenous foundation based in Ecuador.

Originally Broadcast: December 5, 2005.

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Makepeace, Anne — We Still Live Here: Revival of the Wampanoag Language

The film “We Still Live Here,” tells the story of the revival of an indigenous Native American language that was not spoken or written for over 100 years. Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Anne Makepeace, the writer and producer of the documentary film.

The Wampanoag people of Southeastern Massachusetts ensured the survival of the Pilgrims in New England, and lived to regret it. After nearly 400 years of forced cultural assimilation the Wampanoags have brought their language home again.

Radio Curious visited with Anne Makepeace from her home in northwestern Connecticut on April 29, 2013, and she began by pronouncing “We Still Live Here” in Wampanoag.

The films Anne Makepeace recommends are “The Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Dersu Uzala.”

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Wagner, Sally Roesch — Suffragist, Matilda Gage, Almost Jailed for Voting

This program is about Matilda Joslyn Gage, who lived from 1826 to 1892 and was a vibrant and leading figure in the suffragist movement of that century.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, an outspoken leader for women’s rights, and an advocate to abolish slavery and religious bigotry, became historically invisible in pursuit of her liberty to think and speak as she thought proper.  She was threatened with jail for voting in New York in 1871, and later was inducted into the Iroquois nation after publicly declaring Christian theology to be a primary source of the oppression of women.

Historian and chautauqua scholar Sally Roesch Wagner, who portrays Matilda Joslyn Gage, brought Gage into the limelight by creating the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, based in Fayetteville, New York.  The Gage Foundation is dedicated to educating current and future generations about Gage’s work and the power of her work to drive contemporary social change.

I met with Sally Roesch Wagner in the studios of Radio Curious in December 1996.  Our conversation began when I welcomed Matilda Joslyn Gage to Radio Curious.

The book Matilda Joslyn Gage recommends is “The Secret Doctrine:  The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy,” by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

The book Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner recommends is “Women, Church and State,” by Matilda Joslyn Gage.

This program was recorded in December 1996.

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Totten, Professor Sam — Genocide in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan– 2013

The people of the Nuba Mountains, located in northeast Africa, just north of the new nation of South Sudan, are in a crisis that may well threaten their very survival.  In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with retired Professor Sam Totten, author of “Genocide by Attrition:  Nuba Mountains, Sudan,” and “An Oral and Documentary History of the Darfur Genocide.”  Sam Totten returned from a two week visit to the Nuba Mountains on January 11, 2013.
When he and I visited by phone from his home near Fayetteville, Arkansas, on January 13, 2013, we began with his description of the civil war there.

The book Professor Sam Totten recommends is “The World of Darfur: International Response to Crimes Against Humanity in Western Sudan,” by Amanda Grzuyb and Romeo Dallaire.

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Click here to listen to our June 2011 interview with Professor Sam Totten.

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Rabbi Levy, Naomi – Healing Through Prayer

What is prayer, how is it done, and what good does it do?  The ability to mourn and grieve is one of the many things that distinguish humans from other animals, as is the ability to pray, or consciously not pray.  When life is good, people often pray less than when times are tough and tough times occasionally visit all of us, with or without prayer.  Our guest is Rabbi Naomi Levy is the author of “To Begin Again, the Journey Toward Comfort Strength and Faith in Difficult Times.”

Rabbi Naomi Levy recommends “The God of Small Things,” by Arandati Roy.

This program was originally broadcast in 1999.

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Vedantam, Shankar — Have You Found Your Hidden Brain? Part Two

Radio Curious brings you part two of a conversation about the subconscious mind with Shankar Vedantam, author of “The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives.”  His book encourages us to be aware of how our unconscious mind is capable of controlling our decision making capabilities.  In part two, we examine what compels suicide bombers of the early 21st century to take their own lives and those of others. And are we, in fact, all susceptible to these ideas?  Shankar Vedantam is a national correspondent and columnist for The Washington Post and 2009-10 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

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