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Empire State Engagements

Empire State Engagements

By Empire State Engagements
Empire State Engagements is a long-form interview program created, hosted, and produced by Dr. Robert Chiles, featuring interviews with scholars of all facets of New York State history and culture. The Empire State Engagements Podcast presents accessible, audio-only versions of the YouTube interview show "Empire State Engagements."

This podcast was made possible by the initiative and dedication of intern emerita Caylee Song Bergreen and intern emerita Maddie Martinucci.
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6: Brad Utter: Enterprising Waters
A conversation with New York State Museum senior historian and curator Brad Utter about his recent exhibit on the Erie Canal "Enterprising Waters," as well as his book of the same title (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions, 2020). We discussed the research process, evolving vision, and geometric constraints of curating an exhibit on this scale; the serendipitous discovery of an enormous canal-era windlass within the museum's holdings; the politics, economics, and engineering of the canal's creation and expansion; the influence of the canal on various New York cities and cultural movements; and the enduring legacies of the Erie Canal. More information:
June 22, 2022
5: Brad Edmondson: A Wild Idea
A conversation with author Brad Edmondson about his book A Wild Idea: How the Environmental Movement Tamed the Adirondacks (Ithaca, N.Y.: Three Hills/Cornell University Press, 2021).  We discussed evolving meanings of "forever wild," the growing momentum for a more assertive preservationism in the 1960s, the role of the Rockefeller brothers to Adirondack policy, the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency, frustrations among North Country residents with the state's changing role in the region, and the value of elevating character-driven stories within policy history.  This conversation was hosted as a live event by the Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and we are grateful for their hospitality and generosity. More information:
June 15, 2022
4: Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada: Lifeblood of the Parish
A conversation with Dr. Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada of Kalamazoo College about her book Lifeblood of the Parish: Men and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (New York: NYU Press, 2020).  We discussed her experiences over six years of ethnographic work engaging the parish community; reading tattoos as devotional texts; playfulness and devotion in masculine spaces; the rich history of Italian-American Catholicism in Williamsburg; the the financial realities of community devotion; and the endurance of this parish, tradition, and community--despite decades of challenges ranging from reactionary clergymen to Robert Moses to gentrifying hipsters. More information:
June 08, 2022
3: Jennifer Lemak: Southern Life, Northern City
A conversation with Dr. Jennifer Lemak, Chief Curator of History at the New York State Museum, about her book Southern Life, Northern City: The History of Albany's Rapp Road Community (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions, 2008). We discussed African-American life in Albany during the Great Migration, the unique history of migration to Albany from Mississippi, and the remarkable endurance of the Rapp Road community despite radical transformations to the surrounding area. More information:
June 03, 2022
2: Catherine O'Donnell: Elizabeth Seton, American Saint
A conversation with Dr. Catherine O'Donnell of Arizona State University about her book Elizabeth Seton, American Saint (Ithaca, N.Y.: Three Hills/Cornell University Press, 2018).  We discussed young Elizabeth Seton's formative years in New York City, the intellectual forces and family tragedies that informed her spiritual journey, the evolution of American Catholicism, and Mother Seton's remarkable journey from despair to serenity and, ultimately, sainthood. More information:
June 02, 2022
1: Kara Murphy Schlichting, New York Recentered
A conversation with Dr. Kara Murphy Schlichting of Queens College, City University of New York, about metropolis-makers on the periphery, the heroism of local libraries, the hubris of hipness, and her revisionist environmental history of the making of modern New York City, New York Recentered: Building the Metropolis from the Shore (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago, 2019). More information:
May 10, 2022