Podcasts: “Inquest” and “Dirty History”

Project Directors: Cindy Hahamovitch (History), Stephen Berry (History), Scott Nelson (History)

This Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant-funded project is part of the Global Studies of the American South research category in the Willson Center’s expanded Global Georgia Initiative.

The ACLS- and Willson Center-funded web project, CSI: Dixie, collects 1583 coroners reports from six South Carolina counties for the years 1800-1900. Coroners’ inquests are some of the richest records we have of life and death in the nineteenth century South. They reveal how race, place, gender, profession, behavior, and good and bad luck play large roles in determining how we go out of the world. Collecting and digitizing extant coroners’ inquests for the state of South Carolina, “CSI: Dixie” provides rare glimpses into Victorian-era suicide, homicide, infanticide, abortion, child abuse, spousal abuse, master-slave murder, and slave on slave violence. Making those records available on the web has allowed scholars in a wide range of fields–history, geography, journalism, etc.–to respond to them in their own way. Thus the website CSI: Dixie has fostered conversations about the past across disciplines. Inquest will include more people in that conversation by sharing one story per podcast based on coroners’ records. Beginning with a pilot episode this fall, each episode will use a single case to tell a broader story of life and death in the American South. The student hire and trainees will work with Professor Stephen Berry, Gregory Professor of History, to produce the podcasts.

The podcast Dirty History will bring the History Department’s Dirty History seminar to a much larger audience. Organized in 2016, Dirty History is an interdisciplinary workshop for scholars working at the intersection of agriculture, environment, and capitalism. Histories of food and farming have reemerged as an important topic in recent years. The impact of anthropogenic climate change on global food supply, debates around GMOs and industrial agriculture, food deserts for minority communities in the United States, and the struggles of migrant farmworkers have all sparked new kinds of research at the intersection of history, geography, anthropology, and literary criticism. Food studies has also encouraged humanistic scholars to cross the border into scientific fields like ecology, soil science, plant biology, genomics, and engineering. To provide a space for the further development of interdisciplinary, historically-grounded scholarship around issues of agriculture, environment, and capitalism, the organizers of “Dirty History” invite both faculty and advanced graduate students to submit papers for a monthly workshop in which visiting researchers share their ideas and arguments with other scholars working in a wide range of related fields (sociology, anthropology, geography, economics, ecology, forestry, etc.). Thus far, while these interdisciplinary conversations have been open to faculty, graduate students, the occasional undergraduates, and community members from Athens and beyond, but the conversations have been held behind closed doors. The Dirty History podcast will help us share this work with a much larger audience and advertise UGA’s strengths in these fields. It will feature recorded and professionally edited interviews with select Dirty History authors about their work and its significance. The interviewer will be Scott Nelson, Georgia Athletic Professor of the Humanities, who will interview two authors each semester.