Germany — Jul 19, 2016

Introducing: History on Tape

I’m proud to share a new project I’ve co-founded together with students at the Free and Humboldt Universities in Berlin. History on Tape is an interview series with a retro title, where we sit down with historians to talk about their recent work and force them to justify their research funding.

I’m kidding about the last part, mostly. However, this project is a serious effort to help bridge the divide between the stodgy world of academia and the general public, and make history’s lessons ever-so-slightly more accessible. 2016 has brought us horrendous stories of unthinkable suffering from far reaches of the world, and in many of these news items I see repeated mistakes from the past. In an era of soundbites and unchallenged nonsense from talking-head personalities winning their bids for our attention, it’s more important than ever that historians offer their expert opinions. Yet their ideas are often walled-off behind educational institutions with astounding pricetags for admission, or in rambling manifestos written to appease only other scholars in their field of study.

Hence History on Tape. It’s long-form and (for now) low-budget – an unthinkable combination! – but an important platform for people who actually know their stuff.

In our first episode, I interview the head of the Global History department at the Free/Humboldt Universities, Sebastian Conrad, whose work focuses on Japan and German colonialism. In our discussion he helps explain the growing field of “global” history and what the approach means beyond sounding like a glitzy rebranding of world history.

We’ll be rolling out more interviews this summer, with Harvard’s David Armitage next on the docket. If you like what you see here, please stay tuned for more by subscribing to our YouTube channel, or following us on Facebook or Twitter.

Let the historical literacy spread!