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Interventions | The Intellectual History Podcast

Interventions | The Intellectual History Podcast

By Interventions
What do intellectual historians currently investigate? And why is this relevant for us today? These are some of the questions our podcast series, led by graduate students at Cambridge, seeks to explore. It aims to introduce intellectual historians and their work to everyone with an interest in history and politics. Do join in on our conversations!

(The theme song of "Interventions | The Intellectual History Podcast" was created at
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Spinoza, Feminism, and the History of Philosophy (Prof. Susan James)
What makes the seventeenth century such a fascinating period in the history of philosophy? In what ways does Spinoza speak to contemporary philosophical problems? And in what sense is philosophy an inherently historical discipline? These are some of the questions that we asked  Susan James, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College London.  Some books and papers mentioned in this episode are: - Augustine of Hippo: A Biography by Peter Brown - The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt  - Spinoza on philosophy, religion, and politics: the Theologico-political treatise by Susan James - 'Responding Emotionally to Fiction: A Spinozist Approach' by Susan James - Early Modern French Thought by Michael Moriarty
February 11, 2020
Decolonisation, Freedom, and African Intellectual History (Prof. Emma Hunter)
What can decolonisation in twentieth century Africa tell us about the history of political thought? How might African intellectual history shed light on new methods and modes of inquiry? And what does it mean to ‘decolonise’ intellectual history? Emma Hunter, professor of global and African history at the University of Edinburgh and the 2018/19 Quentin Skinner Fellow, joins us to discuss these questions and more in this episode. 
October 09, 2019
Weber, Liberty, and the Anthropocene (Prof. Duncan Kelly)
What can history contribute to the pursuits of contemporary political theory? What does the notion of the Anthropocene have to do with the history of political thought? And what exactly is the legacy of the political thought produced during the First World War?  These are some of the questions discussed in this episode with Duncan Kelly, professor of political thought and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge, and the author of Politics and the Anthropocene (2019).
August 23, 2019
Law, History and Global Governance (Dr Megan Donaldson)
What is the place of history in the study of law? How do historians of international law conceive of emergent actors on the global stage? To what extent do legal histories shape the expectations and commitments of today’s international institutions? Dr Megan Donaldson, recently appointed to a lectureship in Public International Law at University College London, addresses these questions and shares her experience of a complex intersection between law, legal history and the history of political thought. #Globalgovernance #legalhistory #internationallaw #deliberativedemocracy #publicity #interwarperiod 
August 12, 2019
Gender and Political Thought (Dr Anna Becker)
How does an attention to gender change our understanding of Renaissance political texts and the history of ideas more broadly? How can we challenge the traditional divide between the political public and the apolitical private spheres? And in what ways is re-evaluating the conceptual relationship between disadvantaged groups in the early modern period fruitful for our own times? We spoke to Anna Becker, from the Centre of Privacy Studies at the University of Copenhagen, to discuss these questions and more. #gender #Renaissance #household #Machiavelli #Bodin #power #sovereignty
April 10, 2019
Bodin, Self-Translation, and the Environment in early modern Europe (Dr Sara Miglietti)
Which ideas and values shaped the relationship between humans and  their environment in early modern Europe? Why did authors become  interested in translating their own work, and what ramifications could  this have? How can the ways in which authors were read, copied, and  censored in the past enrich our understanding of their work? These are  some of the questions we discuss with Dr Sara Miglietti, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Intellectual History at the Warburg Institute in London.
February 09, 2019
Socialism, Poverty, and the Century of Marx (Prof. Gareth Stedman Jones)
How do we write the history of both the theory and the practice of socialism and welfarism? How do historians negotiate the relationship between their politics and their scholarship? And in what way is Karl Marx's political thinking relevant for us today? Gareth Stedman Jones, Professor of the History of Ideas at Queen Mary, University of London, talked to us about the history of poverty in nineteenth century Europe, his recent biography of Karl Marx, and what Dickens can teach us about writing history.  #welfare state #poverty #socialism #nineteenth century #Marx #Marxism #New Left
December 23, 2018
Rome, Liberty, and Rhetoric (Dr Valentina Arena)
How does the world of ideas impact our understanding of political practice? What notions of freedom shaped the Roman republic? And how can Roman understandings of rhetoric empower our thinking in the twenty first century? These are some of the questions we discussed with Dr Valentina Arena, Reader in Roman History at University College London.
October 27, 2018
Intellectual History, Critical Theory, and Method (Prof. Martin Jay)
What's the relationship between ideas and life experiences, politics and scholarship? How does our methodological self-consciousness evolve? What is the interaction between different schools of intellectual history? Martin Jay reflects on his life and career as an intellectual historian.
October 27, 2018
Enlightenment, Science, and Political Authorship (Prof. Avi Lifschitz)
Where did Enlightenment take place in the eighteenth century? Why were Enlightenment thinkers interested in the origins of language and the workings of the human mind? And can political rulers also be philosophers? Avi Lifschitz talked to us about science, aesthetics, politics and philosophy in eighteenth century Europe, about scholarship then and now, and about the legacies of Enlightenment thinking for our own time.
October 27, 2018
Politics, Language, and Nature (Dr Annabel Brett)
What makes early modern political thought fruitful for our thinking today? How do language and translation inform the writing of history? And why should animals be our starting point for thinking about the political? These are questions we discussed with Dr Annabel Brett, who is a Reader in the History of Political Thought at the University of Cambridge.
October 27, 2018
Enlightenment, Scotland, Europe (Prof. John Robertson)
In what ways has the question of Anglo-Scottish Union been - and become - urgent? What can historians learn from the philosophers' Enlightenment? These are some of the questions we discuss in this episode with John Robertson, Professor of the History of Political Thought at Cambridge, whose books include 'The Case for Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples, 1680-1760', and 'The Enlightenment. A Very Short Introduction'.
October 27, 2018
Beyond Human Rights (Prof. Samuel Moyn)
What is the relationship between neoliberalism and human rights? Does the exclusive focus on rights bias the discourse against other staples of ethical relations between humans, like duties? These are some of the questions we discuss in this episode with Samuel Moyn, professor of Law and History at Yale, a major voice on the history of human rights and author of the forthcoming 'Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World.'
October 27, 2018
Turkish Republicanism (Dr Banu Turnaoğlu)
What is the history of republicanism in Turkey? How did ideas travel between Turkey and Western Europe? And how can we write a transnational or even global intellectual history? These are some of the questions we discussed with Dr Banu Turnaoğlu, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and a Research Associate of St John's College Cambridge, who is a specialist in the history of Ottoman political thought.
October 27, 2018
Sources, Forgeries, and Discoveries (Dr Felix Waldmann)
How do intellectual historians approach sources? What can a source change about existing narratives in the history of political thought? And why is it so important for intellectual historians to know who the author of a given source is? Felix Waldmann, Junior Research Fellow at Christ’s College Cambridge, talked to us about manuscripts, forgeries, discoveries and his research on eighteenth century political thought and the Enlightenment in Italy.
October 27, 2018
Power, Republicanism, and Scholastic Thought (Dr Ben Slingo)
How did early modern scholastic theologians understand political power? What does it mean to speak of scholastic republicanism? And in what ways are these theologians suggestive for thinking about politics today? These are some of the questions we discussed with Dr Ben Slingo - a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge - who is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Scholastic Republicanism.
October 27, 2018
Globalism in History (Dr Or Rosenboim)
What does it mean to think globally about politics? What ideas about space and order does this term rest upon? And what insights are to be gained by approaching questions of global politics and global space from a historical perspective? We explore these questions and the practice of intellectual history more broadly, with Dr Or Rosenboim, who recently finished her PhD in Politics at the University of Cambridge and is currently lecturer at City University in London.
October 27, 2018
Liberalism, Empire, and Utopianism (Dr Duncan Bell)
How should we think of the relationship between liberalism and empire? Can the turn to history help us "decolonize" liberalism today? And what is the role of utopia in Anglophone visions of empire? These are questions we discussed with Dr Duncan Bell, Reader in Political Thought and International Relations at Cambridge, who is a leading authority on modern British and American ideologies of empire.
October 27, 2018
Burke and Political Traditions (Dr Emily Jones)
What are political traditions and how do they come into existence? Was Edmund Burke really a conservative and what does it mean for us to think of him as such? And what can history tell us about political identities today? Dr Emily Jones – a research fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge – talked to us about her own biography, her research and her views on how to do intellectual history and what we can learn from it.
October 27, 2018
History and Theories of Politics (Prof. Sophie Smith)
What does it mean to think about politics philosophically? How did Renaissance and early modern thinkers address that question? And in what ways is a historical lens helpful to think about the theory of politics today? These are some of the questions we discussed with Dr Sophie Smith, who is an Associate Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow at University College.
October 27, 2018