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Past Present

Past Present brings together three historians to discuss what's happening in American politics and culture today. Natalia, Neil, and Niki bring historical insights to the news of the day, offering listeners an alternative to the reflexive and polarized world of punditry. Interested in the world around you but exhausted by rote reactions and partisan talking points? You've come to the right place.
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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 25, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the closing of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, changing public perceptions of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and the controversy over the 1944 Christmas classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

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In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

Dec 18, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the disputed whiteness of classical statues, the Emmy Award-winning show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Native American claims to land rights in Oklahoma.

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Dec 11, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the death of President George Herbert Walker Bush, the resurgence of exorcisms, and the viral popularity of the Squatty Potty.

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Dec 4, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss convict firefighters, China’s new social credit system, and the history of Chanukah. 

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Nov 27, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss segregation academies, the death of an American missionary, and the declining market share of lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret.

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Nov 20, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the aftermath of the midterm elections with special guest, Slate senior political correspondent Jamelle Bouie, the revocation of CNN journalist Jim Acosta’s “hard pass” to the White House, and the supposed radicalization of children’s literature.

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Nov 13, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the midterm elections, the alt-right social media platform Gab, and Movember.

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Nov 6, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the massacre of Jews at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, the closing of rural hospitals, and the political reawakening of women in Orange County, California.

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Oct 30, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the history of U.S.-Saudi relations in light of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration’s policies toward transgender people, and the continued popularity of horror movies.

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Oct 23, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, Niki, and guest historian Leah Wright Rigueur discuss black women and electoral politics, the closing of Sears, and corporate art patronage.

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Oct 16, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the right’s obsession with George Soros conspiracy theories, the recent “grievance studies” hoax, and the rise of Bavarian folk dress as a form of hipsterism.

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Oct 9, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the history of binge drinking, why McCarthyism is back in the news, and the political power of women’s rage.

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Oct 2, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the history of high school yearbooks, how the Trump administration is defining immigrants as “public charges,” and the awful misogyny of Barstool Sports.

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Sep 25, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s upcoming Supreme Court confirmation, fraternity hazing, and the booming natural beauty industry.

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Sep 18, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the new reality show Making It, the 2008 financial collapse ten years later, and the death of Walter Mischel, the social psychologist who created the “marshmallow test.”

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Sep 11, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss Nike’s controversial signing of Colin Kaepernick as the face of their Just Do It campaign, the anonymous New York Times op-ed written by a senior Trump administration official, and the recent death of Robin Leach.

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Sep 4, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the life and legacy of Senator John McCain, the recent scandals in the Catholic Church, and the latest panic over loneliness.

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In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

Aug 21, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the release of Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the White House, a new book by former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman.

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 We will be back in September with new episodes!

Aug 14, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the history of Latinos in the Hamptons, the problem of grift in Washington, and the sudden popularity of rosé wine. 

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Aug 7, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia debate the history of the institutionalization of children, the thankless job of refereeing youth sports, and the legacy of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, one year after the Unite the Right rally.

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Jul 31, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil debate Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show, the viability of a “yoga vote,” and the demographic shift bringing about the disappearance of the middle child.

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Jul 24, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate the definition of treason, the significance of linguistic accents, and a new practice of prescribing outdoor play.

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Jul 17, 2018

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the children rescued from a Thai cave, the Trump administration’s approach to breastfeeding policy, and the fleece vests that have become a staple uniform of the finance industry.

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Jul 10, 2018

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia debate the rise of Democratic Socialists, plans for packing the Supreme Court, and the increasing popularity of audiobooks.

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Jul 3, 2018

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil debate recent claims that the Left is destroying civility in politics, the LGBTQ+ history of American gym culture, and a half-century of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

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