Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

Archive for Expeditions

Episode 30: The Vanguard Project


Vanguard team prepares satellite for lauch (1958)

Angelina Callahan talks about the Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard Project. While the launch of Vanguard 1 in 1958 was part of the Cold War “Space Race,” it also represented something more: a scientific platform for understanding the space environment as well as a test vehicle that would provide data for satellites of the future. Vanguard 1 is still flying. At 60 years, it is the oldest artificial satellite in space.

Callahan is the Naval Research Laboratory Historian. She is also a co-author (with John Krige and Ashok Mahara) of NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space. Her work has also been featured in NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation, the Navy War College Review, Seapower Magazine, and Federal News Radio. 


Angelina Callahan


NRL Celebrates Sixty Years in Space with Vanguard

J. Krige, A. Maharaj, and A. Callahan, NASA in the World
Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space

Angelina Callahan, “The Origins and Flagship Project of NASA’s International Program: The Ariel Case Study” in NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation

Michael J. Neufeld, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War

David H. DeVorkin, Science with a Vengeance: How the Military Created the US Space Sciences after World War II



Episode 29: Descartes, Traveler


Hal Cook talks about the travels and trials of the young Descartes, a man who spent as much time traveling and fighting as he did studying philosophy. Cook is John F. Nickoll Professor of History at Brown University. He is the author of The Young Descartes: Nobility, Rumor, and War out this year with University of Chicago Press.


Harold Cook


Episode 28: The Journeys of Eslanda Robeson


Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson

Annette Joseph-Gabriel talks about Eslanda Robeson — chemist, political activist, anthropologist, and traveler — and the significance of her journeys. Robeson’s 1946 trip through the Congo is featured in Joseph-Gabriel’s interactive website Digitizing Diaspora. Joseph-Gabriel is an assistant professor of French at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. She is the managing editor of Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International (SUNY Press), a regular contributor to the African American Intellectual History Society blog, and an active podcast host on the New Books Network.

Annette Joseph Gabriel

Annette Joseph-Gabriel

For more on Eslanda Robeson, read Barbara Ransby‘s biography Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

Selected works by Joseph-Gabriel include:

“‘Ce pays est un volcan’: Saint-Pierre and the Language of Loss in White Creole Women’s Narratives.”

“‘Tant de silence à briser’: Entretien avec Evelyne Trouillot.”

“Mobility and the Enunciation of Freedom in Urban Saint-Domingue.”

Episode 27: The Medieval Pilgrimage


A pilgrim badge portraying Our Lady of Tombelaine, early 1400s

Fran Altvater talks about the Medieval Pilgrimage, a practice that became central to Christian Europe in the early Middle Ages and evolved into the military pilgrimages of the Crusades in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Altvater is a professor of art history at the University of Hartford. Her book, Sacramental Theology and the Decoration of Baptismal Fonts, was published recently by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Fran Altvater

Here are some of Altvater’s other writings as well as a good overview of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages by Jean Sorabella:

Calendar Images and Romanesque Baptismal Fonts

Saintly Bodies, Mortal Bodies: Hagiographic Decoration on English Twelfth Century Baptismal Fonts 

Pilgrimage in Medieval Europe (Sorabella)

Episode 26: The Last Uncontacted Tribes


Sydney Possuelo, Tepi Matis, and Txema Matis in the Vale Do Javari Indigenous Land, 2002

Journalist Scott Wallace talks about a 2002 FUNAI expedition to find the Arrow People, one of the last uncontacted tribes in the world. Wallace is a writer and photojournalist who covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s for CBS and the Guardian. Since then he has written extensively for National Geographic. His book, The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes, tells the story of this expedition. Wallace’s work about the Amazon has also recently appeared in the New York Times.



Scott Wallace

Episodes 24 and 25: The Biggest Exploration Exam Ever

Image result for library books

Doctoral candidate Sarah Pickman talks about studying exploration: specifically what it’s like to read three hundred books and articles and to be able to discuss them for hours in front of a committee of professors. This event, the preliminary or comprehensive exam, is the last step a graduate student takes before beginning her dissertation. Pickman also discusses recent trends in exploration literature and her top five list of exploration books. 

If you like the discussion, you may also want to listen to the bonus episode where we give our top picks for some unconventional categories of books. Pickman also talks about the exam experience at Global Maritime History in her essays “Surviving the Qualifying Exam” (Part I)(Part II)

Texts discussed:

Jace Weaver, The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire 

Nancy Shoemaker, Native American Whalemen and the World: Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race 

Isaiah Lorado Wilner, “A Global Potlatch: Identifying the Indigenous Influence on Western Thought,” in American Indian Culture and Research Journal vol. 37, No. 2 (2013), pp. 87-114.

Beau Riffenburgh, The Myth of the Explorer

Sarah Pickman’s Top Five

Surekha Davies, Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters 

Dane Kennedy, The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia 

David Blackbourn, The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany 

Lisa Messeri, Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds 

Peter Redfield, Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana 

Pickman headshot

Sarah Pickman

The Biggest Exploration Exam Ever:

Bonus Episode: Exploration Books

Episode 23: Backpack Ambassadors


Backpackers in the Netherlands, 1969. Life Photo: Carlo Bavagnoli

Richard Ivan Jobs talks about the rise of backpacking in Europe after the Second World War. Jobs argues that youth travel helped create a new European culture after the war, contributing to the integration of Europe during the 1960s and 70s. Jobs is a professor of history at Pacific University. He is also the author of Backpack Ambassadors: How Youth Travel Integrated Europe recently released by University of Chicago Press.

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Richard Ivan Jobs