Introducing Voices

The new podcast Voices from the Global Humanities features the research outcomes of CHCI’s recent regional and global humanities projects. In representing the knowledge and insight borne of collaborative work across continents and disciplines, which has become one of CHCI’s signature projects, Voices from the Global Humanities is itself an outcome of these collaborations: it is CHCI’s first major public humanities project.

We have designed the podcast to be relevant in and beyond the university, of interest both to our members and their colleagues and to a curious public. Over the past year, we have worked closely with Steve Paulson and Anne Strainchamps producers and hosts of To the Best of our Knowledge (TTBOOK), a long-running interview-based radio show distributed by PRX. Together, we have created a platform through which the voices of scholars and artists can reach new audiences and generate new awareness of humanities research. In many ways, Voices shares the format of a humanities center or institute, bringing together multiple conversations, horizons, disciplines, and ways of knowing in a format that cuts across academic and public spheres.

Voices will be organized by thematic, multi-episode series. It will include interviews that are broadcast on public radio in the United States (and streamed online, via the To the Best of our Knowledge website), as well as extended versions of these interviews that will appear here.

Ideas from Africa, our inaugural series, draws upon CHCI’s first Africa Humanities Workshop, which took place at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2019. The Workshop, Africa as Concept and Method, brought together 37 early-career scholars from 11 countries. Seminar leaders included Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Carli Coetzee, Simon Gikandi, Elizabeth Giorgis, Catarina Gomes, Julie Mehretu, Mshai Mwangola, James Ogude, and Dagmawi Woubshet. Topics that carried throughout the ten-day session included urbanism, performance, and decolonization.

We open Ideas from Africa with an episode on Urban Africa. In it, you will hear interviews with the visual artist Julie Mehretu, cultural and literary studies scholars Dagmawi Woubshet, Ato Quayson, and James Ogude, and historian Emily Callaci, among others. The podcast incorporates conversations that took place in Addis, as well as other interviews with invitees of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for the Humanities, recorded in the Wisconsin Public Radio studios in Madison.

Future episodes in the series will focus on Jazz and Afrofuturism. While the podcast won’t fully capture the intensity and explosive intellectual energy that was evident when three dozen emerging scholars spent ten days in conversation with one another, we hope that it sparks new conversations, raising awareness of the global humanities and launching a new platform for CHCI.