Month: July 2009

28. The Life of a Roman Town

Mary Beard: PompeiiHow easy is it to get an insight into the life of the ancient Romans from a visit to the remains of Pompeii today? How much of what we see is even Roman, and how much is recent reconstruction?

What did the Romans really think about sex? And what did they believe in a world on the cusp of embracing Christianity? And did they really eat dormice?

Click on the link above to hear writer, broadcaster, blogger extraordinaire and Cambridge professor of Classics, Mary Beard tackle all these questions and more.

You can also hear Mary talking about the Roman triumph in podcast 15: The Big Parade.

27. Alice on the Indus

Empires of the Indus coverOn Monday night Alice Albinia won the Dolman Travel Book Prize for her book, Empires of the Indus, in which she traces her remarkable journey from the river delta near Karachi to its source in Tibet.

Just after the winner was announced, I spoke to Alice about her book. Click above to find out why the woman who donned a burqa to travel through Taliban country doesn’t think of herself as a particularly intrepid traveller…

Burma – Failed state: Le Monde diplomatique podcast

Rangoon, BurmaBurma’s military regime, the State Peace and Development Council, has if anything become more repressive since the scenes of confrontation which the world witnessed on its television screens during the saffron revolution of 2007.

In this month’s podcast, George Miller talks to journalist Rajeshree Sisodia about her article on contemporary Burma in the July edition of Le Monde diplomatique.

They discuss the Orwellian climate of fear which prevails in the country and life in the refugee camps across the border in Thailand, home to thousands of Burmese who have fled their country.

Rajeshree also talks about China’s growing investment in – and consequent influence over – Burma, and assesses the medium-term prospects for change.

To listen to the podcast, click here [13:49].

Photo by Sam Hummel.

26. Who owns your body?

Body Shopping cover

“This is what I think is really surprising to most people: you don’t actually own your body, in the sense that tissue taken from it and used afterwards is yours to use as you see fit.

“The law traditionally took the view that tissue, once it had left the body, was what was called ‘no one’s thing’.

“And it took that view because traditionally the tissue wasn’t of any value. It is modern biotechnology that has given it this value.”

This podcast is an extended version of an interview I did with Donna Dickenson for Blackwell Online about her book Body Shopping: Converting Body Parts to Profit.

We talked about the global commodification of the human body, from the sale of eggs and the “grave-robbing” of bones to gene-patenting.

Donna’s approach is not to sensationalize these issues, shocking though they often are, but to look at the big questions we as a society need to face in their ethical, legal and scientific context.