buber - podcast

Welcome to Research Bites, the podcast of the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences in each episode, we feature innovative research in the Humanities and the Social Sciences by one of our fellows. In this podcast we hope to offer a taste, or a bite, of the research taking place in our Society and the kinds of conversations taking place in its offices, hallways, and, indeed, the kitchen.     


Dec 30th, 2018

In this episode, Dr. Miriam Goldstein interviews Dr. Oded Zinger, a historian that specializes in Jews in Islamic lands.


Nov 9th , 2021

In this episode, Dr. Oded Na’aman interviews Dr. Dan Baras, an analytic philosophy researcher.


Nov 9th , 2021

In this episode, Dr. Christian Wollin interviews Dr. Antonio Vargas, who is an ancient philosophy researcher.

Women’s Letters from the Cairo Genizah

We often imagine the Jewish family of past generations to have been a bastion of stability and affection in uncertain times. However, at least in eleventh and twelfth century Egypt, the Jewish family was fluid and unstable. Women occasionally married several times during their lives, husbands were often away for long periods of time, and polygamy was not uncommon. The documents of the Cairo Geniza, a rich trove of documents discovered in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, reveal how women, with their limited resources, maneuvered in such unstable conditions. Of special interest are the more than 200 women's letters in the Geniza, giving us practically the only extended example of writing by Jewish women from the Middle Ages. How these letters were written? Do they reflect women's authentic voices? What did these women write about? Come and hear!   

Do some facts call out for explanation?

Some things seem like they just can't be coincidences. They seem to call for explanation. If you toss a coin many times and it repeatedly lands heads, that might be an example. Philosophers have used this idea to argue for some far-reaching conclusions, such as that there aren't really any numbers, that other universes exist and, more famously, that an all-powerful god exists. But what does it mean for something to call for explanation? And, are these arguments good ones?

The problem of evil

In the 5th century C.E. the Greek philosopher Proclus wrote that “the same argument that keeps the whole world perfect posits evil among beings.”


In the eighteenth century, the satirist Bernard Mandeville would inspire the economist Adam Smith with his poem describing a city where “every Part was full of Vice, Yet the whole Mass a Paradise.” Connecting these two distant thinkers is the claim that evil somehow contributes to the good of the whole. How can such an articulation of good and evil make sense? And how can studying such historical arguments be relevant to understanding our situation today?



April 2nd, 2020

In this episode, Prof. Ruth HaCohen interviews Dr. Yonatan Gez, an anthropologist that specializes in Religion and society in East Africa.


March 14, 2021

In this episode, Dr. Amir Engel interviews Dr. Lina Nikou, a historian and cultural anthropologist, about her new book. 


March 14, 2021

In this episode, Prof. Ronit Ricci interviews Dr. Mirjam Lücking, a social anthropologist who studies Indonesia and its relationship with the Middle East.

Religious Mobility and Identity among Christians in Kenya

We often think of religious membership as clear-cut and exclusive: A member of group A could not possibly also be a follower of group B. Conversely, and especially among scholars observing disempowered populations, religion is often seen as instrumental – a means for accumulating material, social, or symbolic capital. How do these two perspectives fit together in Kenya – a diverse and predominantly Christian country with high rates of material insecurities? How has the Christian revival of recent decades, associated with neo-Pentecostalism and with becoming born again, influenced patterns of mobility and conceptions of religious belonging among Kenyan Christians? And what are the broader social and political implications of such observations?

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Revisiting the Old Heimat: German – German-Jewish Relations after the Second World War

Only fifteen years after the Second World War some cities in western Germany started to contact former citizens living abroad who had been persecuted during National Socialism. A few of these cities also granted invitations to these former victims of National Socialism, inviting them to visit their former places of residency in Germany for one or two weeks. Some of these contacts and invitations started in the 1960s. Since the 1980s they took place all over Germany. Surprisingly, most of these contacts and invitations were not initiated by German politicians. Instead former victims of the Nazi persecution within the cities as well as abroad played a major role in the initiation and the success of these initiatives. This apparent paradox is at the center of this episode about “invitations to the old hometown”.

Indonesian Tourism to Jerusalem

Tens of thousands of Indonesian tourists come to Israel/Palestine every year. Some of them come in groups that consist only of Muslims, while others are made up by Christians. How are the experiences and itineraries of the two types of groups different, and how are they similar? And what can we learn from these about tourism, identity formation, Indonesia, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

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Dec 30th, 2018 

In this episode, Prof. David Shulman interviews Dr. Hannelis Koloska, an historian and philologist that specializes in Qur’anic studies.


Dec 30th, 2018 

In this episode, Dr. Yakir Paz interviews Dr. Orly Lewis, an historian of Medicine in Antiquity.



Dec 30th, 2018 

In this episode, Dr. Eitan Grossman interviews Dr. Philipp Reick, a social historian who is working on the history of capitalism, organized labor and urbanism.

Visual Dimensions of the Qur‘an

When we think about the Quran - the holiest religious book for a quarter of humanity - we rarely think about it as a visually-rich text. The Quran and Islam in general, often enter the cultural imagination through auditory practices such as recitation, or even with a mind to the Islamic prohibition of pictures. But is this the whole story? Are there visual aspects to the Quranic text that scholarship has neglected so far? And if we turn our attention to these aspects, how will this shape our understanding of the Quran as a historical document that is a product of its time?


Image: Verses from surah 18 from a manuscript of a Qur’an codex (Islamic Arabic 1572), before 750. Credit: Manuscripta Coranica, published by the Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften by Michael Marx, in cooperation with Salome Beridze, Sabrina Cimiotti, Hadiya Gurtmann, Laura Hinrichsen, Annemarie Jehring, Tobias J. Jocham, Tolou Khademalsharieh, Nora Reifenstein, Jens Sauer und Sophie Schmid. Betaversion: as of 30.12.2018

Taking the Pulse - The Emergence of a New Diagnostic Method

What is a more familiar bodily phenomenon than the pulse? We are so accustomed to the sensation of our pulse that it is easy to think this was always a part of human experience. But what if this was not always the case? When did physicians learn about the pulse, and how did it become so central to medical practice and to our own experiences of our bodies?

image: Erasistratus, a physician, realizing that Antiochus's (son of Seleucus I) illness is lovesickness for his stepmother Stratonice, by observing that Antiochus's pulse rose whenever he saw her. Colored engraving by W.W. Ryland, 1772, after Pietro da Cortona. Credit: Wellcome Collection

Time and again: The Contested History of Working Hours

It is hard to imagine a world without the division into work days and holidays, or regular office hours (usually 9 to 5), extra hours, and free time. But how did this daily rhythm--which is at the core of our current experience of time--come to be? What is its impact on our lives? And how does it continue to evolve today, with changes in the workplace and in the global economy?


Dec 13th, 2018

In this episode, Dr. Yonatan Moss interviews Dr. Daphna Oren-Magido, a historian of the family in seventeenth-century England. 


Dec 9th, 2018

In this episode, Dr. Orit Gazit interviews Dr. Gregor Buss, a catholic theologian and ethicist.


March 18th , 2020

In this episode, Dr. Daphna Oren-Magidor interviews Dr. Linda Konnerth, a linguistician that studies the  Trans-Himalayan languages of Northeast India.

Why Moll Wouldn’t Marry?

We seem to have a pretty clear picture of the lives of women three or four hundred years ago. They were under the charge of their fathers until their parents chose a husband for them, and then they had to get married. They had very little freedom and very little choice about it.

But… Who decided when and to whom women in early-modern England should marry? Why would a woman decide to refuse all her suitors and never marry? And what were the consequences of such choices?

Let’s turn to Dr. Yonatan Moss, who is interviewing Dr. Daphna Oren-Magidor, a historian of the family in seventeenth-century England. Daphna will be telling us about one woman whose story sheds a different light on this topic.

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Good Shepherds – Black Sheep: Catholic Priests as Stasi Collaborators in East Germany

It sounds like a James Bond movie: Catholic priests as spies who collaborated with the secret police. Clergymen who met in secret with officers of the socialist regime to report about other church members. High representatives of the church who willingly violated their own moral standards. Another scandal in recent church history, that has been kept secret for too long?

Let's NOT talk about 'you' and 'me': Changing languages

Language teachers make us believe that learning a language means learning a bunch of grammatical rules. But we all know that native speakers don't have the slightest problem bending those rules backwards to carve out nuances and to skillfully avoid tricky topics. In southern Northeast India, a number of related languages have come up with new forms replacing 'you' and 'me'. But how can you replace expressions as basic as 'you' and 'me'? And why would you?