International History Now

Podcast series

In the first series of International History Now, co-hosts Dr Dina Gusejnova (LSE International History) and Dr Georgios Giannakopoulos (LSE International History, City University of London/NYU London) invite guests to explore topical questions in historical perspective, and to share their thoughts drawing on experiences and research from around the world.

Season One

Episodes 1 and 2 - The Monument Crisis

The first two episodes of the series cover the “monument crisis” -- a struggle for symbolic recognition of black lives in public spaces which emerged in the context of broader protest movements such as “Black Lives Matter”. Drawing from their research and personal experiences, our guests reflect on the so-called “monument crisis”. They take us on a journey from Eastern Europe, to Africa, Italy, the United States and, of course, the UK. We talk about the parallels between de-communization and decolonisation, the new nostalgia for socialism, commemorative practices in interwar Tanganyika and post-colonial Tanzania, the concept of “vandalism”, Churchill, and more broadly, about questions of public history, memory and heritage in the shadow of the Black lives matter movement. 

Episode 1: Democracy and Violence

Guests: Carlo Invernizzi Accetti (Associate Professor of Political Theory at CUNY, New York); Nausikaa El-Mecky (Professor of Art History at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona).


Episode 2: Decommunisation and Decolonisation

Guests: Michal Murawski (Lecturer in Critical Area Studies, UCL SSEES, London);
Alma Simba (UG student in International History at LSE, London, and Editor of Lacuna Lit literary magazine).

This episode discusses the fate of monuments from interwar Tanganyika to modern Britain, looks at Black Lives Matter through the lens of African socialism and at Soviet communism as a form of Russian hegemony, analyses why the "Leninopads" in Ukraine preceded "Rhodes must fall" in South Africa and Britain, and raises the question to what extent a new nostalgia for socialism may be emerging.


July 2020

Episode 3 - Cultural Crises in the Pandemic

Episode 3: Hagia Sophia as a Mosque

Guests: Cemil Aydin (Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Marc David Baer (Professor of International History at LSE).

In the third episode of "International History Now", we are talking about cultural crises in the pandemic, Hagia Sophia as a mosque, Erdogan waving goodbye to Kemalism, Mehmet II’s place in Kemalist and conservative Turkish imaginaries, and the politics of the Ottoman past. 


August 2020

Episode 4 - Belarus: Colonies, Borderlands, Memory and Security in Eastern Europe

Guests: Alexander Etkind (Professor of History at the European University Institute at Florence) and Maria Mälksoo (Senior Lecturer in International Security at the Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent).

Taking the protests in Belarus which began in August 2020 as a cue, this episode examines some of the pivotal recent scholarship in Eastern European history and international relations through conversations about ways in which the past comes alive in present crises. The episode aims to contextualise the past of Belarus and the region of Kresy in the light of an open future, centring around issues of the cultural and economic histories of borderlands, memory and security, forgotten and obliterated groups. We also discuss how interdisciplinary groups using new media could foster new insights into the history and memory of this region. 


October 2020

Episode 5 - Democracy in America

Guests: Jeanne Morefield (Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Birmingham), Samuel Moyn (Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University) and Charles Smith (Distinguished Professor of Playwriting at Ohio University).

The American election has created a closely watched spectacle across the world. The interests of those watching are as widely divergent as those of the American electorate itself. For the past four years, the words and gestures coming from America’s now departing president have made for a horrible show of dehumanisation, farce, and contempt. And yet the election is also a passing moment in a much more protracted crisis revolving around the state of American democracy as well as its status worldwide.

Can American democracy be reformed? What can legal and political theorists and historians do? Should playwrights expose weaknesses of canonical figures of past struggles for equality?


November 2020

Episode 6 - Nagorno-Karabakh in History

Guests: Zaur Gasimov (Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History of University of Bonn) and Ronald G. Suny (William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan).

Against the backdrop of a new war in Nagorno-Karabakh, in this episode we explore the region’s history through the lenses of political conflict as well as cultural interactions. Since 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh brokered an existence as an autonomous region, and the fortunes of its population were supposedly entrusted to international intermediaries, the so-called Minsk group. While the UN Security Council had ruled to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, de facto throughout this period Nagorno-Karabakh was controlled by Armenia. In the autumn of 2020, Azerbaijan carried out a military operation, which resulted in the transfer of a large part of Nagorno-Karabakh, previously controlled by Armenia, to Azerbaijan. Now Armenian refugees have fled from here to Armenia or to Russia, while the Azerbaijani population expelled from Karabakh in the early 1990s is preparing to return. Among the ruins of towns and villages are both Armenian and Azerbaijani cultural monuments, some of which document a kind of coexistence that now seems unimaginable. Our guests speak about the region in relation to the Russian Civil War, Soviet culture of the 1960s, the role of the diasporas, and the impact of Soviet collapse on the Caucasus as a whole. The episode features music by composers and performers from the region.


January 2021

Episode 7 - The Greek Revolution of 1821: reflections on the bicentenary

Guests: Mark Mazower (Ira D. Wallach Professor of History, Columbia University and Founding Director of the new Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination), Katherine E. Fleming (Provost of New York University and Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization, Faculty of Arts and Sciences at NYU) and Effi Gazi (Professor of History, University of the Peloponnese and member of the editorial board of the journal Historein).

25 March 1821 is celebrated annually in Greece as Greek independence day; a day marking the birth of what some have seen as the first nation-state in Europe after post-revolutionary France. A series of localised revolts against Ottoman rule gave rise to a broad revolutionary wave that swept parts of the country. By the end of the 1820s, interventions by different European powers and the rise of philhellenic sentiment secured the state's autonomous existence from the Ottomans. This came at the price of greater dependence upon the so-called Great Powers: Britain, France, and Russia.

As Greece prepared to celebrate the bicentennial of the events of 1821, we examined the dimensions of Greek dependence and independence from different angles. Was the war of independence a standalone event or part of a transnational process of revolutionary activity? How did the heterogeneous populations (Jews, Muslims) within what became the Greek nation-state experience the revolution and its aftermath? What kinds of sovereignty did Greece gain and how did its palace in the world change over time? Finally, how is the revolution remembered in Greece today?


March 2021


Season Two


Episode 8 - Collapse/Free: The End of History 30 years On

Guests: Vladislav Zubok (Professor of International History at the London School of Economics) and Lea Ypi (Professor in Political Theory in the Government Department at the London School of Economics, and Adjunct Associate Professor in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University)

Discussion of Vladislav Zubok's new book Collapse. The Fall of the Soviet Unionpaired with Lea Ypi 's Free. Growing Up at the End of History

It's been 30 years since the collapse of the socialist bloc, a time dominated by master narratives announcing the "end of communism" or even of history as such. These two exceptional new books look at the collapse of the USSR and of socialist Albania to shed new light on the nuances in this complex history of political transitions and alternatives.


December 2021

Episode 9 - Dissenters and Dissent in Politics: From the Quakers to Amnesty International

Guests: Tom Buchanan (Professor in British and European History at the Dept for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford) and Andrew Murphy (Professor for Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University)

What did the early creators of the term ”prisoners of conscience” meat by it, and what motivated them to institutionalise this status legally? In 2021, Amnesty International celebrated its 60th anniversary. Since then, the organisation has played a key role in mobilising international support for political dissenters and dissidents. This protection often revolves around the act of assigning the status of a “prisoner of conscience” to a protected individual.

They also go back early modern history of political dissent, associated with such figures as the Quaker William Penn, who had been imprisoned several times in the Tower of London for his religious views but later in life founded a colony in America which was to become one of the United States - Pennsylvania. The term “dissenter” describes the experience of religious oppression under different ‘old regimes’ in Europe. In more recent times, ‘dissent’ has been associated with the activism of political dissidents under different oppressive regimes, from the Soviet Union or modern Russia to Myanmar and China.

What is the relationship between the faith of dissenters and their political dissidence? At which point does the collision of dissenters with the cultural and legal system of their societies render them from powerless victims to powerful speakers and politicians?


February 2022

Episode 10 - Ukraine and Russia's War Through the Prism of History

Guests: Yevgeniya Belorusets and Stefan Troebst (Professor of Cultural History for Eastern Europe at University of Leipzig)

On 24 February 2022 Russia turned its military actions against Ukraine which were going on in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine since 2014 into a full-blown, total war. The language of the international media to describe the conflict is unstable: first, a Russian invasion; then, “Russian-Ukrainian war”, then “Russia’s war in Ukraine”, “Russia’s war against Ukraine”, “Ukraine’s war against Russia-backed forces” or a “fratricidal war”. In Russia itself, calling the war anything other than a mere “special operation” carries with it the risk of punishment with 10 years of prison colony. If there is a war, Russian officials say, it is with NATO and the US.

How is Ukrainian identity represented on the streets of Europe, and what are the political functions of this representation? How do Ukrainians think about their past in the light of the present? In what sense have European states, especially Germany, reassessed their past alignments in Europe? And how have historians approached the subject of Ukrainian identity?

In this episode we have two conversations on Russia’s war against Ukraine. First we speak to the photographer and writer Evgeniya Belorusets. She is the co-founder of “Prostory”, a journal for literature, art and politics. Her works move at the intersection of art, literature, journalism and social activism, between document and fiction. In the current war, she has become, in her own words, the “hostage of her own war diary” as she remained in Kyiv throughout the Russian attack. Now she is just back from the Venice Biennale where she has worked with the Ukrainian pavilion.

Our second conversation is with Stefan Troebst, a historian and a Slavicist until recently Professor of East European Cultural History at Leipzig University. He has published widely on the modern cultural, political and legal history of Eastern Europe - editor of a book series Visual Historical Cultures. He also worked as a German member for missions of long duration for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the former Yugoslavia and former USSR.


May 2022 



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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers alone. They neither reflect the position of the Department of International History nor of the London School of Economics.