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Civilization and Its Discontents – Maya Jasanoff – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #126

Terrorism. Technological disruption. Globalization. Life in the 1870’s was wild. Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff on Joseph Conrad, his times, and ours.   


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Jason Gots: I want to read you a quote: “For reasons which can certainly use close psychological inquiry the West seems to suffer deep anxieties about the precariousness of its civilization and to have a need for constant reassurance by comparison with Africa.” 

That’s Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe writing about Joseph Conrad and his famous book Heart of Darkness. We’ll come back to that. Born in Poland in 1857, Conrad, like us, lived at a time of rapid globalization, of technological disruption, and of all the wonders and horrors that unleashes. My guest today, Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff, has written all about it in her beautifully written, fascinating new book The Dawn Watch.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Molly Crockett on social media outrage, Robert Steven Kaplan on globalization

About Think Again – A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

You’ve got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we’re pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think’s interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.




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