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SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human Profile

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human

English, Sciences, 6 seasons, 66 episodes, 1 day 4 hours 7 minutes
About
What makes you … you? Is it your DNA, culture, environment? SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon, Esteban Gómez, and SAPIENS.org Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell speak with anthropologists from around the globe to help us uncover what makes us human. Subscribe now to learn more. The SAPIENS podcast is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and produced by House of Pod.
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Can We Understand One Another?

Hosts Kate Ellis and Doris Tulifau explore the perils and possibilities of the kind of fieldwork that defined Margaret Mead as an anthropologist. They provide answers to the Mead-Freeman controversy but also ask the questions that remain.  In this season finale, we circle back to the problems with coming of age … in Samoa and everywhere. 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.
14/12/202330 minutes
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Weaving Stories: Two Women Speak

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 National Endowment for the Humanities.
05/12/202330 minutes 32 seconds
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Sex, Lies, and Science Wars

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, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
28/11/202328 minutes 30 seconds
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Bonus: Flemmie Kittrell and the Preschool Experiment

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 of these experiences that drove Flemmie to apply her academic training to help improve the lives of people in her community. In the early 1960s, Flemmie decided to see what would happen if you gave poor kids a boost early in life, in the form of a really great preschool. Every day for two years, parents would get free childcare, and their kids would get comprehensive care
21/11/202338 minutes 23 seconds
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Into the Light

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.
14/11/202323 minutes 52 seconds
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Trashing an American Icon

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 National Endowment for the Humanities.
07/11/202328 minutes 27 seconds
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We Need to Tell Our Own Stories

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.
31/10/202328 minutes 29 seconds
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Flapper of the South Seas

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.
24/10/202325 minutes 5 seconds
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Coming of Age … Today

Being a teenager can be hard. Very hard. Our hosts Kate Ellis and Doris Tulifau recount the tough parts from their adolescence to ask whether being a teen is difficult in every culture.  It’s the question that inspired Margaret Mead, one of the most influential figures in American anthropology, to begin her research in American Samoa in 1925. And it’s the question that has sparked years of debate about human sexuality, nature versus nurture, and whether we can ever really understand each other. 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.
17/10/202323 minutes 34 seconds
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The Problems With Coming of Age: Season 6 Trailer

This special SAPIENS podcast season tells the story of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead’s epic life and controversial research to explore key quandaries about the human experience: sex and adolescence, nature versus nurture, and the question of whether it’s ever possible to fully understand cultures different from your own. In addition, we hear from Samoans themselves about their views on the matter and their lives today. In 1928, when she was just 27 years old, Mead published Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization, which investigated the sexual lives of young women on the Pacific Islands. The book was an instant bestseller, challenging people in the U.S. to rethink much of what they had assumed to be true about sex, human biology, and growing up. Mead became the most influential anthropologist in history and one of TIME magazine’s most powerful 25 women of the 20th century. She received a U.S. presidential medal
10/10/20233 minutes 19 seconds