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SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human

Science Podcasts

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.

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.

Location:

United States

Description:

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.

Twitter:

@sapiens_org

Language:

English

Contact:

720.443.7370


Episodes

A Startling Link Between Neanderthals and COVID-19

12/8/2020
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell speaks with evolutionary geneticist Hugo Zeberg about his surprising discovery of a connection between Neanderthal DNA and a greater risk for severe COVID-19. Zeberg is also a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. Read the paper in Nature Zeberg co-authored announcing the discovery: “The Major Genetic Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19 Is Inherited From Neanderthals.”

Duration:00:21:36

Moments of Resilience Amid a Pandemic

11/24/2020
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell speaks with Melanie Adams, the director of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (ACM), about #Moments of Resilience, the ACM’s effort to document and eventually tell African Americans’ stories about the times we're living through now. They also discuss the unique role of a community museum, the value of oral history, and the communities the ACM serves from its home in Washington, D.C. Check out these links to the three stories Melanie reads in this...

Duration:00:26:45

Is the Pandemic Slowing Down Love?

11/12/2020
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon speaks with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher about her research on love, sex, and everything in between. Fisher is the author of six books, the chief scientific adviser for the online dating site Match.com, and a leading researcher on dating trends in America. In this episode, Fisher shares insights from a recent survey. The New York Times piece Fisher references in this episode is available here: “How Coronavirus Is Changing the Dating Game for the Better.”

Duration:00:26:20

When at Home, Bake as the Romans Baked

10/27/2020
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell talks with experimental archaeologist Farrell Monaco about her work re-creating ancient Roman bread and what it means to reconnect with bakers of the past. Farrell also offers some tips for pandemic-era bakers who want to take their new hobby to the next level. For more from Farrell, her award-winning website is Tavola Mediterranea. Read more about experimental archaeology, including Farrell and her work, at SAPIENS.org: “Pandemic Bakers Bring the Past to Life.”...

Duration:00:26:47

A Vaccine Will Not Be Enough

10/14/2020
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon speaks with Agustín Fuentes, a professor of anthropology at Princeton University, to unpack his insight that the COVID-19 pandemic is a biosocial phenomenon. They also discuss his recent suggestion that the virus “is not the only hazard to human health and well-being” right now. Recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fuentes is a decorated anthropologist and an author of many books. His latest is Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of...

Duration:00:24:22

We're (Still) Going Viral

8/28/2020
The SAPIENS podcast will return in several months, and we want you to help us understand what it means to be human amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you have a question, thought, or idea about what it means to be human right now? Tweet at us @SAPIENS_org, message us on Facebook, or leave us a voicemail at 1-970-368-9730.

Duration:00:02:20

The Problem With Abstract Threats

7/2/2020
Everyone seems to have a story about the moment when the novel coronavirus pandemic stopped being an abstract problem “somewhere out there” and started being a very real and personal threat. In this episode of the SAPIENS podcast, hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell interrogate the problem with abstract threats with the help of anthropologists Hugh Gusterson and Kristin Hedges. In closing, Steve Nash returns to discuss a different abstract concept: time. Hugh Gustersonis a professor of...

Duration:00:34:20

What Pandemics Leave Behind

6/18/2020
At some time in the future, the novel coronavirus pandemic will fade. What will this globally traumatic contagion leave in its wake? In this episode of the SAPIENS podcast, hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell keep an eye on the future while looking to the past for answers: In the 14th century, the Black Death killed as much as one-third of the population of Europe, but it also sparked new ideas that linger to this day, including one of our favorite modern myths. In closing, Steve Nash...

Duration:00:34:47

Police Violence and the Pandemic

6/12/2020
SAPIENS host Jen Shannon interviews Laurence Ralph, a professor of anthropology at Princeton University. Ralph is also a co-director of Princeton’s Center on Transnational Policing, the editor of Current Anthropology, and the author of the new book The Torture Letters: Reckoning With Police Violence, which exposes the Chicago Police Department’s history of torturing black men and women, and documents the community activism intent on stopping such violence. The poll Jen mentions in this...

Duration:00:24:13

Could the Coronavirus Pandemic Be Good for the Environment?

5/29/2020
SAPIENS host Chip Colwell interviews Elic Weitzel, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Connecticut, about his recent article for SAPIENS that considers how the global pandemic may impact climate change—for better or for worse. Weitzel is currently working on his dissertation on the environmental effects of the Black Death on 14th-century Eurasia and the depopulation of Native Americans in the wake of European colonization. Read his SAPIENS article: “Are Pandemics Good...

Duration:00:16:14

Preppers and the Pandemic

5/19/2020
With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, the SAPIENS podcast is going viral. In this first episode of season 3, SAPIENS hosts Chip Colwell and Jen Shannon revisit a story about preppers from our first season. Jen calls Chad Huddleston, one of the anthropologists featured on that show, to find out how he and the preppers he studies are handling the COVID-19 crisis. In closing, Chip reaches out to SAPIENS columnist and anthropologist Steve Nash to discuss panic buying, toilet paper, and...

Duration:00:28:56

What Does it Mean to be Human? Your Questions, Answered

12/3/2019
In this season 2 finale of the SAPIENS podcast, hosts Jen Shannon, Chip Colwell, and Esteban Gómez field questions from listeners on Twitter and at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science about what it means to be human. They address human origins and self-awareness, discrimination, social media, and more! You can follow all of our expert guests on Twitter: Augustin Fuentes at the University of Notre Dame (@Anthrofuentes); Daniel Miller at the University College London (@DannyAnth); and...

Duration:00:25:45

Does Generosity Come Naturally?

11/19/2019
Until very recently, Colin Turnbull was the only anthropologist who had lived and studied with both the Mbuti people of the Congo region and the Ik of Uganda. Because of his writings, one community became known for its egalitarianism and the other for its selfishness. His observations of the Ik in particular, as “inhuman” and “inhospitable,” led to them being dubbed as “the loveless people.” Then in 2009, Cathryn Townsend earned the chance to live with the Ik to study to generosity. In this...

Duration:00:33:44

How Belonging Shapes the Vaccination Crisis

11/5/2019
Anthropologist Elisa Sobo never wanted to study the issue of vaccination. The topic was too fraught, she says, and she didn't want to touch it. But then she initiated a children’s health study at a school in California. Today her work on vaccine hesitancy offers insights into how those on opposing sides might better understand each other and work through this highly controversial issue. For more, check out Elisa Sobo’s SAPIENS piece about her work on vaccination: “Beyond the Vaccination...

Duration:00:25:45

The Deep Roots of Navajo Country Music

10/22/2019
What is it about certain musical traditions that cause them to take root in communities far away from where they originated? Anthropologist Kristina Jacobsen leads SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell on a musical journey into the U.S. Southwest to understand the phenomenon that is Navajo country music. In addition to authoring the book The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging, Jacobsen is a singer-songwriter. This episode includes one of her songs and a number...

Duration:00:34:49

Are Colors Universal?

10/8/2019
How do language, biology, and culture shape an individual’s experience of color? A journalist investigates the anthropological debate about whether color is a human universal. Remember the meme #TheDress? Was it white and gold, or blue and black? With the help of Nicola Jones, a freelance science journalist who writes for Nature and SAPIENS, SAPIENS host Jen Shannon explores the question of color perception to find answers. She learns about the book The World Color Survey, an Amazonian...

Duration:00:30:19

Stringing Together an Ancient Empire’s Stories

9/24/2019
Anthropologist Sabine Hyland attempts to uncover the secrets held in twisted and colored Andean cords called khipus. Thanks to the collaborative approach of anthropologist Sabine Hyland and local communities, outsiders are finally coming to understand what these khipus mean—for the people of the Andes and for the rest of us. Sabine Hyland is a professor of anthropology at the University of St. Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @Coyagirl. For more on khipus, read Hyland’s article about the...

Duration:00:33:42

Do You Dream What I Dream?

9/10/2019
Anthropologist Roger Lohmann sees a ghost in a dream while working in Papua New Guinea. Even though he knows it's just a dream, he's scared long after he wakes up. To make sense of his dream, Lohmann explores the role dreams play in our waking life and how different cultures make sense of dream worlds. Do all humans dream the same? Or do the cultures we are immersed in shape our dreams? Lohmann has six cultural dream theories that offer some answers to what dreams are and what they...

Duration:00:22:43

What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Down Syndrome

8/27/2019
When Thomas Pearson’s newborn daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome, it changed the course of his life forever. Pearson joins SAPIENS hosts Jen Shannon and Chip Colwell to talk about his story, how his training in anthropology prepared him for his daughter’s diagnosis, and what he hopes other people can learn from his experience. Pearson is a professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Stout. Read more about Pearson’s story and his research into disability studies...

Duration:00:25:15

Where Have All the Denisovans Gone?

8/13/2019
The Denisovans have long been one of the most elusive ancient human cousins, until now. In May 2019, scientists revealed the first fossil evidence of Denisovans outside of the Denisova Cave in Siberia. As the historical human family tree grows, what are we learning about why we're the only ones left? In this episode, we pose this question to science journalist Carl Zimmer, a columnist for The New York Times and the author of 13 books. Follow him on Twitter @carlzimmer. We also speak with...

Duration:00:27:51