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We're launching a podcast: Contested Legacies

Politics

Martin Luther King Jr Day is as good a day as any to talk about defanged and sanitized political icons. At New Internationalist, we’ll be launching a podcast in March to make sense of why the memories of some of the most influential people on the Left are watered down, and in some cases littered with falsehoods in mainstream discourse.

Today it isn’t hard to spot Frida Kahlo’s face plastered onto gimmicky, expensive products asking feminists to ‘free the nipple’ or to watch tearful orchestral biopics about Gandhi’s non-violence without really having to think about what non-violence means at all – or to read 5000 word magazine longreads likening Barak Obama, a politician with serious proximity to Wall Street, to Malcolm X, an unrelenting icon of black radicalism.

So in the next few weeks, you’ll hear me, your host, try to unpick fact from fiction when it comes to the most deified figures in history and critically interrogate their legacies. I want to find out not only where to draw the moral boundaries on Gandhi, Obama and many more folks but also to ask what it means to draw a boundary at all.

I don’t just want to correct the record and tear down figures from pedestals, though that could be fun too. More than anything, Contested Legacies came to life so I could explore how these legacies have come to have political capital – to understand what myths are being leveraged, and for what ends.

We'll be looking at the lives of Gandhi, Obama, Frida Kahlo, Hugo Chavez, Rosa Luxemburg and Malcolm X. I’ll be asking questions about why their legacies are sanitized, obscured and in some cases deliberately misunderstood. Who is trying to ‘claim’ Gandhi? And what does that mean for today’s progressive movements?

So watch this space. We’re launching Contested Legacies in March.

Support for the podcast comes from Abundance.

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