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The Forum

Podcast The Forum
Podcast The Forum

The Forum

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  • A dirty history of diamonds
    We seem to have an almost insatiable appetite for the glitter and sparkle of diamonds. Yet transforming these stones into jewels fit for princesses and film stars involves a long chain of production and distribution. And the diamond industry has long been bound up with a much darker side: the exploitation of workers, environmental damage, all-powerful monopolies and violent mafias, not to mention the so-called Blood Diamonds used to finance armed conflict. So how is the industry trying to clean up its image and regulate the trade? Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss the history of the diamond trade are: Dr. Lansana Gberie, former coordinator for the UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Liberia. He is the author of A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone. He’s also Sierra Leone’s current Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and the Sierra Leonean Ambassador to Switzerland - though his contributions to this programme are in a personal capacity. Ian Smillie, founder of the Diamond Development Initiative, now DDI at Resolve, an organisation which works to improve conditions for small-scale miners. He is the author of several books, including Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade. He is based in Canada. Dr. Tijl Vanneste, researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations at Nova University in Lisbon. He is the author of Blood, Sweat and Earth: The Struggle for Control over the World's Diamonds Throughout History. [Image: Examining a gem diamond in Antwerp, Belgium; Credit: Paul O'Driscoll/Getty Images]
    10/14/2021
    39:40
  • The story of Evita
    Eva Peron rose from a childhood of poverty to become one of the most powerful figures in Latin America. An illegitimate small town girl, she smashed class and gender barriers to become Argentina’s controversial First Lady. Loved and loathed, Rajan Datar discusses her life, work and remarkable afterlife with biographer Jill Hedges, historian Ranaan Rein, and cultural theorist Claudia Soria. [Photo: Eva Peron in 1951. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images]
    10/7/2021
    39:06
  • Sushi: The Japanese dish with an ancient tradition
    It’s one of the most popular dishes in the world today, but the story of sushi can be traced back more than 2,000 years. The earliest records document a preserved fish dish in ancient China and it later became a medieval luxury in Japan, before evolving into a variety of different regional styles and recipes. Today, thanks to waves of migration from Japan, there is a veritable smorgasbord of international varieties… California roll, anyone?   Joining Rajan Datar to discuss the history of sushi are James Farrer, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Graduate Programme in Global Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. He is the author of Globalisation and Asian Cuisines; Eric C. Rath is Professor of Premodern Japanese History at the University of Kansas in the US. He’s the author of Oishii: The History of Sushi; and Michelin-starred Japanese sushi master, Endo Kazutoshi, who is head chef at The Rotunda in London. Presenter: Rajan Datar [Image: Young woman eating sushi; Credit: Getty Images]
    9/30/2021
    39:53
  • Toni Morrison: The legacy of a literary legend
    The American writer Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” It was an urge which in her case yielded a rich array of novels, children’s books, plays and essays. Toni Morrison stands tall, as the first black woman of any nationality to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Celebrated for her masterpiece Beloved, she remains a towering figure, one of the most well-known and oft-taught authors of our age. Since her death in August 2019, many have been reassessing her multiple legacies: as a novelist, cultural critic, and editor. Joining Bridget Kendall to explore the life, work and impact of Toni Morrison are Dana Williams, Professor of African American Literature at Howard University in Washington DC and current President of the Toni Morrison Society; Janis A. Mayes, Emerita professor of African American Studies at Syracuse University, US; and Aretha Phiri, Associate Professor at Rhodes University in Grahamstown / Makhanda, South Africa. Produced by Jo Impey for BBC World Service Additional research by Tessa Roynon [Photo: Toni Morrison in Chicago, Illinois in 2010. Credit: Getty Images / Daniel Boczarski / FilmMagic]
    9/23/2021
    39:38
  • Algorithms: From the ancients to the internet
    Hidden from view, complex to understand and often controversial, algorithms are at the heart of computer coding that underpins modern society. Every time we search the internet, every time we pay by credit card, even the romantic partners suggested to us by online dating sites – they’re all powered by algorithms. And their reach is growing all the time, as some societies use them to automate decisions regarding criminal justice, mortgage applications and job recruitment. The history of algorithms is surprisingly ancient, stretching back to the Babylonian empire where large societies required a systematic way to count and order different aspects of citizens’ lives. Today some people are questioning their use, as some algorithms have been shown to replicate bias and there are fears that algorithms have the potential to undermine democracy. Bridget Kendall is joined by Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles and the author of Beyond the Valley: How Innovators around the World are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow; the French computational scientist, consultant and entrepreneur Aurélie Jean, who’s published From the Other Side of the Machine: A scientist’s journey in the land of algorithms; and Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University who’s written more than 120 books on aspects of mathematics and science. Produced by Fiona Clampin for the BBC World Service [Image: Digital data and binary code. Credit: Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images]
    9/16/2021
    39:20

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