The World in Time

Maya Jasanoff

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ocean Swells, by Arthur B. Davies. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of A. W. Bahr, 1958.

“The book teaches me things,” Barack Obama explained to his friends when defending his decision to read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “about white people…the book’s not really about Africa. Or black people. It’s about the man who wrote it. The European. The American. A particular way of looking at the world.” In her introduction to The Dawn Watch, Maya Jasanoff writes that she came to agree with what the future president wrote in Dreams from My Father, that Conrad’s perspective was valuable “not just despite its blind spots but because of them. Conrad captured something about the way power operated across continents and races, something that seemed as important to engage with today as it had when he started to write.” In this podcast episode, the Harvard history professor traces the writer’s past and explains how she followed him across the sea and to the Congo to understand better what he saw and how the imperialism he observed in the nineteenth century evolved into what we see now in the twenty-first century.


Lewis H. Lapham talks with Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World.


Thanks to our generous donors. Lead support for this podcast has been provided by Elizabeth “Lisette” Prince. Additional support was provided by James J. “Jimmy” Coleman Jr.


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