slavery

Visiting the set of a historical drama can be a surreal experience, and Underground was no exception.

As the Louisiana sun beat down on an actual historical plantation near Baton Rouge last July, director Kate Woods oversaw a scene where an adorable small boy — actor Maceo Smedley — is picking cotton.

"Could someone go and put more blood on his hands?" she shouted.

Historian Beeta Baghoolizadeh says 19th century Iranian slavery can appear softer alongside its American counterpart, but that’s not a fair comparison. She'll trace the country's history of slavery and its erasure from the national consciousness.

But first, Joshua Landis joins the show again for a discussion of the Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt and what may have caused it, and Turkey’s recent parliamentary elections.

"...a thoroughly modern sculpture by the Scandinavian artist Clara Sörnäs.   It shows five slave figures, slightly larger than life, chained together in a pit.
missy & the universe / Flickr

Iran only abolished slavery in 1928, but since then, it’s been largely erased from the national consciousness. Historian Beeta Baghoolizadeh, who studies Iranian slavery, says the taboo surrounding slavery and Iran’s effort to distance itself from its past is due to its precarious position on the world stage 87 years later.

For some time, researchers suspected that the São José-Paquete de Africa, a Portuguese slave ship, was lost in 1794 off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. But only now, after years of painstaking work, have they finally confirmed it.

"...a thoroughly modern sculpture by the Scandinavian artist Clara Sörnäs.   It shows five slave figures, slightly larger than life, chained together in a pit.
missy & the universe / Flickr

For most Americans, the word "slavery" conjures up images of the distant past - a land of cotton, plantations, and blue and grey coats. It seems like a relic from a different time and a different world, but in reality, more people are enslaved today than at any point in human history.

Frederic Edwin Church / Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The nation pauses Monday to mark Memorial Day and honor the thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country’s freedom. The holiday started in the late 1860s to honor Union and Confederate soldiers killed during the four brutal years of the American Civil War.

General Records of the United States / National Archives

Historian Allen Guelzo calls the Emancipation Proclamation “the single most sweeping presidential action in American history.” It dealt with slavery in a way the Framers during the Constitutional Convention never did, and decidedly outlined a key goal of the Union during the Civil War.

Yellow.Cat / Flickr Creative Commons

University of Oklahoma historian Kyle Harper says there have been thousands of answers to what caused the fall of the Roman Empire. Overexpansion, economics, and the rise of Christianity are all valid explanations, but he’s exploring the role of disease and climate change.

“When we look back at the Roman Empire now, we can see that changes in the Romans' environment, both the climate, but also the kind of species that live in and around humans, especially pathogens, play an enormous role in the collapse,” Harper says.