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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: 2019
Sep 17, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss government surveillance of American universities, the political career of John Bolton, and the technological and cultural reasons women’s voices are often insulted as “shrill.”

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Sep 10, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the legacy of late bodybuilder Franco Columbu, the candidacy of Kamala Harris, and a proposal to eliminate selective testing for New York City public high schools.

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Sep 3, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the legacy of late billionaire David Koch, the menace of bedbugs, and why so many people are choosing to remain friends after a breakup.

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Aug 20, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss social media “twinfluencers,” a boycott of fitness brands Equinox and SoulCycle, and the controversy over the film The Hunt.

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Aug 13, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the history of anti-Latino nativism, newly discovered racist comments by Ronald Reagan, and the growing popularity of sound baths.

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Aug 6, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss President Trump’s insults to Baltimore, the presidential candidacy of self-help guru Marianne Williamson, and a proposal for a national service requirement.

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Jul 30, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the death knell of “purity culture,” and new controversy over spaying and neutering dogs.

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Jul 23, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the history of telling immigrants and minorities to “go back” to where they came from, and whether or not air conditioning is sexist.

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Jul 16, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the Women’s World Cup, the life and legacy of Ross Perot, and the case against Jeffrey Epstein.

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Jul 9, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the recent debate over school busing, the launch of the women’s networking platform, “Girlboss,” and the rapper Lil Nas X.

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Jul 2, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the recent escalation of tensions with Iran, new allegations of rape against President Trump, and controversy on the knitting social media network Ravelry.

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Jun 25, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the recent passing of two major figures: political historian Alan Brinkley and socialite fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, and the historical significance of a viral Buzzfeed essay about attending a lesbian cruise.

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Jun 18, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss YouTube’s role in political radicalization, the history of tariffs, and the presidential candidacy of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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Jun 11, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the significance of the Stonewall Uprising, the legacy of Jazzercise, and the fortieth anniversary of C-SPAN.

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Jun 4, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the 1994 Crime Bill, a surge in deaths among Mount Everest climbers, and controversy over a plan to build a luxury complex at the Grand Canyon.

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May 28, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss billionaire Robert F. Smith’s historic gift to the Morehouse College class of 2019, a proposed fur ban in New York City, and the opening of a chic new hotel in the TWA terminal.

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May 21, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss a proposed “sex strike,” historian David McCullough’s new book, and the life and legacy of Doris Day.

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May 14, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the concept of “electability,” the gender policing of South African runner Caster Semenya, and the legacy of Christian writer Rachel Held Evans.

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May 7, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the legacy of filmmaker John Singleton, an anti-Semitic cartoon in the New York Times, and the latest social media sensation, TikTok.

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Apr 30, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss outrage over an Ancestry.com ad, vigilante groups policing the U.S.-Mexico border, and the controversy over cargo shorts.

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Apr 23, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the fire at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral, President Trump’s attacks against Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and the history of liberal think tanks.

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  • The world watched as Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames last week. Natalia recommended this Atlantic article that highlights the tension between the French tradition of laïcité and Notre Dame’s status as a national icon.
  • Sparked in part by President Trump’s incendiary remarks, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has become the target of vicious attacks. Niki cited this New Yorker profile about Omar’s popularity among her constituents.
  • A Center for American Progress video criticizing Bernie Sanders for downplaying his substantial wealth is raising questions about the biases of the liberal think tank.

  

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

Apr 16, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the influence of Trump adviser Stephen Miller, the resurgence of measles in the United States and the anti-vaccination movement, and the plight of adjunct professors.

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Apr 9, 2019

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the case for reparations, why leggings are so controversial, and the legacy of rapper Nipsey Hussle.

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Apr 2, 2019

In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the Mueller Report, the movement to end the Electoral College, and why not many Americans eat arugula lettuce.

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

Mar 26, 2019

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the college admissions scandal, the white supremacy terrorist attack in New Zealand, Beto O’Rourke’s bid for the presidency.

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