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Back in America

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A podcast exploring America's identity, culture, and values.

A podcast exploring America's identity, culture, and values.


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A podcast exploring America's identity, culture, and values.






Listen again: Divers from the EPIX/ BBC Docuseries “Enslaved”: Diving on Shipwrecked Slave Ships

This episode was originally published on December 17, 2020 In this episode, I interview three crew members of the EPIX / BBC docuseries Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. While 2020 has been a year of intense examination of racism in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Enslaved takes a deep dive at the historical realities of the Middle Passage. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, The Guardian’s Afua Hirsh, and investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici, the...


SETI – Dr. Seth Shostak – Searching for E.T.

Back in America is a podcast exploring America’s culture, values, and identity. This conversation was recorded live on September 17. You can watch the unedited version on our Youtube channel. Listen to this episode to learn more about the release of the Pentagon report on UFOs to Congress. The importance of cosmos exploration. The chances of finding extraterrestrial life in our lifetime. After taking a long summer break during which my intern Josh Wagner took over Back in America with his...


Poetism Part 7: Can you describe it all? Scott Stevens on the Cocteau Twins & Brigit Pegeen Kelly

If the particular cannot be repeated, it remains forever lost; and this is why there can be no final closure to mourning. There can only be, alongside of mourning,​ learning to love new particulars ––Louise Fradenburg In this week’s installment of “Poetism,” we’d like to ask about how words, poems, songs, and other kinds of art objects help bring life to a world. And by world, we mean a perspective, something experienced and understood in the innermost part of our being. Whether faced by...


Poetism Part 6: Can you experience? Michael Leon Thomas on Whitehead and Pharoah Sanders

The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ. These lines, from the opening pages of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, emphasize unseen background noises as constituting an environment. The bees, working through the grass, create the...


Poetism Part 5: Can you speak for others? Lorenzo Bartolucci on Seamus Heaney and Hozier

Across Northern Europe, so-called “bog people” have often been discovered shuffling around in the peat. While no one is quite certain where these quasi-mummified bodies come from––some date as recently as the 1940s––they have posed a strange mystery for countless poets and artists. This week, Back in America’s Poetism team takes a look at one of Seamus Heaney’s bog-inspired poems “The Bog Queen” from his 1975 collection North. Written in the spring of the May 1968 movement and the beginning...


Poetism 4: Can you break a word? Gabriel Ellis on SOPHIE and Jos Charles

Elegy Who would I show it to In this short one-line poem, W.S. Merwin condenses the anguish of loss, of being alive, and of the limitations of languages into a neat little package. Why write in the absence of finality? And what happens when mortality catches up with us? In this installment of Poetism, Podcast Editor Josh Wagner takes to the studio to ask about the honesty of writing––can writing ever reflect a true impression of reality? To field such questions about life, poetry, and...


Poetism 3: Can You Feel It? Johnnie Hobbs on D’Angelo and Amiri Baraka

She listen to a little of that D’Angelo music, some love’s melody, sophisticated-type rap, which she say sounds more like real music, like intelligent music, than some of that other music, then she cuts the radio off ––Gayl Jones, The Healing Like the narrator in Gayl Jones’ The Healing, this week’s installment of Poetism focuses on and around “black music,” that is music which conveys a specific feeling of a sensation or time without explaining anything. For me, it’s like being a child...


Poetism Part 2: Are we numb yet? Lisa Robertson and the Airborne Toxic Event with Mitch Therieau

Why are we so blind, why do we see so little, when there is much around us to see? So asks philosopher Alva Noë in Strange Tools, an exploration of how art objects contain, persuade, envelop, and direct our attention. What happens when we love a song, poem, or a moment in a day? How do these works of art direct and misdirect our attention? What––physically, emotionally, actually––happens to us in these moments of transport? And how can we talk about any of this without poorly...


Poetism Part 1: Patrick Rosal and The Doors with Fang Liu

Happy July! While Stan and the usual Back in America podcast are on a hiatus this summer, Podcast Editor Josh Wagner will be hosting a new series entitled Poetism, tracing the foundations of and influences behind American poetry and music. Each week, Josh will invite a guest on the air to talk about an unusual pairing of a poem and song––seeing how they overlap and converse with one another. In the process, we hope to expose listeners to new poets and songs and make a case for the...


Doug Steinel: Cancel Culture in Classroom

Before we dive into today’s episode, a personal note: This summer, I will be going back to France for the first time in two years, and I will take a break from podcasting until September. However, my interns Josh and Emma will be keeping the lights on by releasing podcast episodes and newsletter articles (subscribe here). Josh has been working on a series of episodes discussing American music and poetry, which will be released weekly in July and August. So, Back in America will be in...


Cargo-Sailboats are Back-at-Sea, Creating a Greener Supply Chain

This episode was recorded live on May 26 and includes questions from the audience. It is part of a series on sustainable initiatives to save our planet. In his latest interviews, host Stan Berteloot spoke with Navi Radjou about the frugal economy and Bruno Sarda about how corporations are experimenting with sustainability. Stan’s guest, Stefan Gallard, is a French-American working for Grain de Sail, a company that has built the first modern wind-powered cargo ships. Grain de Sail...


Bruno Sarda: “Climate change poses a systemic, existential risk to the future viability of your system”

Subscribe to Back in America, the newsletter Back in America is a podcast exploring America's culture, values, and identity. This episode is part of a series on positive initiatives to save our planet. In his last interview, Stan Berteloot spoke with Navi Radjou about the frugal economy. Today, he is talking to Bruno Sarda, an internationally renowned expert in sustainability. For years, corporations have advertised their green initiatives to reassure both investors and customers about...


Students Becoming Pro: the Interns Behind the Mic

Careful listeners of Back in America may have noticed that we have expanded our team and welcomed two interns to research, record and write the podcast alongside me, Stan Berteloot. In the spirit of transparency, I’d like for you to formally meet my interns Josh Wagner and Emma Myers in true podcast fashion as they interview each other! They also discuss their own exciting projects coming soon: be on the lookout for Josh’s Poetry and Eugenics series both releasing this summer, and Emma’s...


Navi Radjou: Is Frugal Economy a Viable Alternative to Capitalism and Could it Save our Planet?

In this episode, Back in America’s host, Stan Berteloot speaks with Navi Radjou, internationally renowned Indian-French-American scholar, innovation and leadership advisor, and bestselling author based in New York. Navi’s most recent book, Frugal Innovation: How To Do More With Less, shows how companies can innovate faster, better, and more sustainably. The conversation focuses on Navi’s work on developing an alternative to capitalism and concrete actions individuals and businesses are...


How would you go to Zoom School as a homeless youth? We asked Bridging Tech, a charity devoted to overcoming the digital divide

Bridging COVID-19 Isolation and the Digital Divide with Bridging Tech In 2021, it is nearly impossible to get anything done without a laptop: apply for a job, go to school, safely connect with friends, or schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Yet, there are fewer laptops in existence than humans on this planet, presenting a unique challenge for unhoused students. Not only are they disadvantaged in terms of their living situation, but also have to deal with this extra technological...


Listen Again: Guns, God & the 2nd Amendment in America - David Treibs Christian & Guns Activist - Prof. Robert Spitzer Constitution and Gun Control Expert, SUNY Cortland

As Biden announces new executive actions on gun control, the Back in America team invites you to re-listen to an episode on guns in America, initially published on Oct. 23, 2020. In his executive actions today, Biden restricted the sale of “ghost guns,” untraceable guns which are sold in kits. Today’s announcements are less expansive than the president’s initial campaign promises. Yet, administration officials suggest that these measures are only the first steps of Biden’s plans for...


Derrick Jensen: Are We at the End of the World or just the End of our Civilization?

In this episode, Stan Berteloot continues to explore how leading American collapsologists thinkers conceive of the collapse of our Western civilization. Since the 1990s, scholars have been predicting that the end of the Cold War and the struggle between capitalism/communism will also bring about “the end of history.” But, are these worries founded? What are we to make of the last 30 years? After previous episodes with John-Michael Greer and Richard Heinberg, Stan sat down with Derrick...


International Women's Day - Listen Again - Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: Black Feminism, Civil Rights…

Today is March 8, International Women's Day, and on this day I suggest that we listen to Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and her work for civil justice. This episode was previously released on Jan. 22, 2021. In this episode of Back in America, I speak with Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, political consultant, and activist. She recently ran to represent Maryland’s 7th District in Congress after undergoing a double mastectomy. Dr. Maya Rockeymoore...


Who should get the vaccine first? We didn’t know so we asked a philosopher

As countries worldwide scramble to vaccinate their citizens against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, governments have to make the uncomfortable calculus of who deserves to get the vaccine right now. The ones who are spreading it the most? The ones in essential high-risk jobs? People over a certain age? That threshold is unclear and hotly contested. With several months to go before vaccines are readily available to any desiring American adult, legislators have to ask The Question: who first?...


Listen again: Eric Marsh - Being a Black man today in America

First published on November 18, 2019 When a French journalist returns to live in the US 25 years after leaving it as a student, he struggles to recognize the country he loves. He embarks on conversations with Americans of all backgrounds in a quest to understand what America means today. This was the first installment of Back in America. The episode is part of a series on masculinity in America. Here I speak to Eric Marsh a Black activist and a social worker in Philadelphia. We...