UZBEKISTAN: More podcasts / Googoosha

Amir Timur Museum, Tashkent – Source

CSIS: Of Mirziyoyev’s Uzbekistan – A recent podcast from an American think tank, looking at Mirziyoyev’s reforms since he came to power in 2016. They focus that while the reforms have not transformed the country overnight, they have been significant – especially economic and politically. They look at how Mirziyoyev’s reforms are being balanced with the need to keep the country and existing power structure stable, how these reforms are seen in Washington, Moscow, and Beijing, and how Uzbekistan fits in the current situation with neighbouring countries, especially Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Al Jazeera – Uzbekistan reforms: Activists demand more changes – A bit more colour on reforms in Uzbekistan, reporting by Al Jazeera on both the recent progress (foreign journalists were rarely allowed in before 2016) and on places where reform has stalled or has only been incremental – especially for dissidents. Recent elections have not had genuine opposition parties, and the pandemic has set back much economic growth – so it will be seen in future years if the reforms continue.

Deep Fried: Uzbek Kimchi – A Dubai-based food podcast that goes into the culinary connections between Uzbek and Korean cuisine. They go to local restaurants and compare the Korean and Uzbek versions of kimchi and kuksi (a summertime noodle soup served chilled), and also touch a bit on why there is so much Korean influence on Uzbek cuisine. There is a surprisingly large Korean population in Uzbekistan – many Koreans who fled the Japanese occupation into Russia were resettled by the government to Uzbekistan.

A rare snowy day in Tashkent – Source

BBC – Uzbekistan: Searching for Googoosha – A slightly breathless BBC investigation from 2014 about Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of then-President Islam Karimov. Karimova has been a fascinating figure – immensely powerful, she controlled huge assets and state companies during her father’s life, was very public on the international NGO scene, but also acquired great wealth through graft and was connected to violent repression of critics. She also had a career as a pop star in Uzbekistan, under the stage name Googoosha. Her star began to dim as international corruption investigations started circling, and as of 2014, she was falling from grace as part of an internal power struggle within her own family and others positioning themselves to succeed the ailing Karimov.

BBC – Unravelling an Uzbek Mystery – If you listen to the above podcast, you’ll want this as a part 2. This episode is from 2016, shortly after Karimov’s death and Mirziyoyev coming into power. Karimova made global headlines at that time – she had disappeared, and rumours circled that she had been killed. The BBC’s Uzbek journalists had made contact with her son, and got the scoop that she was alive, but being held under house arrest. It’s clear that she had lost the succession struggle and the new government needed her out of the public eye.

This was all only five years ago – so where is Gulnara Karimova now? In 2017, Uzbek courts convicted her of corruption, extortion, and money laundering – both due to genuine crimes but also likely as a convenient scapegoat for corruption in the Karimov era. She was sentenced to jail, commuted to house arrest, but in 2019 she was returned to jail – where is where she currently is.

Much was made over her pop career – I’m reasonably sure that this was the music video mentioned in the 2014 podcast.


The Fergana Valley – Source

Matters of State: Uzbekistan at a Crossroads – A short American foreign policy podcast from 2016, right after the death of longtime president Islam Karimov. They take a brief look at Uzbekistan’s political history under Karimov, where the country may go from there (we now know the new president has made some steps towards reform and improving human rights), and a look at where Uzbekistan sits geopolitically with its neighbours and with larger powers like Russia and China.

BBC – Uzbekistan: The Country of a Hundred Shrines – Uzbek journalist Rustam Qobil, who reports for the BBC across Central Asia, returns to Uzbekistan for the first time in many years to report on religious revival as part of the country’s larger reforms since 2016. He speaks with Islamic students about the Uzbek tradition of shrines, which has both pre-Islamic and Sufi roots, visits the tomb of Daniel (one of several, this one connected with Timur/Tamerlane) and comments on the increased openness and freedom to participate in religion compared to the Soviet and Karimov eras. He also briefly connects how the Mirziyoyev government is supporting a return to religion, specifically moderate Islam and syncretic Uzbek traditions, as a way to head off the growth of religious extremism. An article based off the podcast with pictures is here.

RNZ Kitchen Stories: Hanifa and Nilufar cook Uzbek food – From New Zealand’s public broadcaster, an interview with Nilufar Allayarova and her daughter Hanifa Kodirova, on emigrating from Uzbekistan to New Zealand and Uzbek cuisine. Also included are their family recipes for Uzbek plov, manti, and samsa. If you’re interested in plov, check out my my attempt!

BBC: Lost Stories From Uzbekistan – Another BBC Uzbek journalist, Ibrat Safo, covers how Stalin’s purges in the 1930s affected Uzbekistan, and how a chance meeting with a professor in Tashkent helped Safo find out his own family history – including about family members that had disappeared in the purges.

SRB Podcast: Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan – A discussion from 2015 with an expert on Uzbekistan about the then-current political situation in Karimov’s declining years (he would die the next year), the political history of Uzbekistan post-USSR and the power struggles happening around who would succeed Karimov. A lot of the episode’s predictions have come true in the last six years, including Uzbekistan’s careful balance between the US, China, and Russia – a position not always in its control – and its role as an Islamic country fighting against Islamic fundamentalism.


The Bamboo Cathedral – Source

Nerd World Politics: Under the Gunn – From 2018, the first podcast from Nerd World Politics – two self-described “Black nerd activists” from Trinidad and Tobago who discuss political and social justice elements of modern nerd culture. They’re absolutely fantastic and extremely thoughtful. This first episode covered the James Gunn controversy, including how calling out and forgiveness works in both nerd and activist circles, better ways to deal with inappropriate behaviour, the weaponization of cancelling, and the corporate and cultural responses to situations like Gunn’s.

The House Lime: Jemel the Entertainer – The House Lime is a fun, casual interview show (liming being slang for chatting or shooting the shit). This episode they interview Jemel the Entertainer, a prominent Trinidadian comedian on social media. It’s an intriguing interview, covering how to be successful through new media, the comedy scene in Trinidad and Tobago, the nature of local fame, and acting with professionalism and building back your reputation after a scandal (and hoo boy, he’s had some scandal in the past).

Jus’ Ole Talk: Jus’ Fix It Pt. 1Jus’ Ole Talk is a really good quality discussion podcast about everyday life in Trinidad. I listened to the first “Jus’ Fix It” episode, that looked at ways to potentially fix problems in society. The first half mainly focused on Trinidad and Tobago in international sports, and how to properly nurture young athletes with either state or private support. They particularly look at the Olympics and Jamaica, which is similar in size, wealth, and history, but is far more competitive internationally than Trinidad is. This episode also starts into a discussion about customer service in Trinidad, and I’ve never heard a funnier use of dead air in my life. I’m going to tune into the second half to hear the rest, they were starting into an interesting discussion on the colonial hangover in customer service. A quick note though, there’s at least another podcast from Trinidad with the same name, so look for the “Showtime Trinidad” one.


Source: Pexels

Black Power in the Caribbean Series: Trinidad and Tobago 1970 – BLAM UK has a great series of Black history podcasts, all about 10 minutes long. This particular episode focuses on Trinidad’s Black Power Revolution in 1970, a pivotal civil rights movement. This podcast also touches how racism at Canadian universities and resistance by West Indian students in Montreal (a part of my own country’s history I was sadly ignorant about) directly fed into the civil rights and Black Power movements in Trinidad and Tobago.

This Week in Trini – Short 5-minute podcasts covering the news from Trinidad and Tobago, particularly domestic and national news.

AG Talks: All Things Tobago – This is a really interesting podcast series, featuring Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General, Faris Al-Rawi. However, it’s not him being interviewed in a journalistic sense, it’s his own podcast. He focuses on various legal, political, or constitutional subjects, and brings other high profile people to discuss a topic – this one was on the pending legislation to give Tobago increased autonomy, and featured an MP from Tobago, as well as the head of the Tobago Assembly. What makes this podcast remarkable is that it’s definitely very informative about the topic, but it’s also a brilliant piece of political media – Al-Rawi hits his political talking points and advocates his side of the debate, without sounding like a campaign speech. It’s a masterclass for any politician or advocate on how to be relatable and engaging while still putting your agenda forward.

A Day in the Life of Nelly B.: Wendy, Gabby, and the case of the straightened kinks – A look at an incident a few years back where a Trinidadian contestant on “Caribbean’s Next Top Model” was forced to chemically relax her natural hair or be eliminated from the reality show. Nelly B. gives a nuanced look at the incident, as she is someone who has fought for support of natural Black hair, but who also has worked as a model and has a firsthand understanding of the industry and its obligations.

From the Talking Drum to Steel Pans: Drumming in Trinidad and Tobago – Another podcast from BLAM UK, a brief look at the history of drumming in T&T, including times drumming has been banned, and the evolution of the steel pan today and the huge competitions today like Panorama.

And to get a sense of how cool the steel orchestras at Panorama are:

ALBANIA: Podcasts

Beachfront in Sarandë – Source: Rough Guides

Explaining Albania: Blood feuds and honour, a tragic tale of Albanian tradition – An interview with Dr. Elona Prroj, a Protestant minister from Albania who runs an NGO seeking to end blood feuds in the country’s north, where they not only still occur, but have resurged after being suppressed during the communist era. Her own husband was killed in a blood feud, and she is working to both break the cycle with forgiveness (as her own family has done), and to tackle some of the root causes of blood feuds – particularly poverty and limited access to education.

Pendulum Podcast: In And Out Of Octopodi by Lori Lako – Poetic spoken-word reflections by Albanian artists and an interview with an art historian about Albania’s disappearing historical buildings – including the demolition of the National Theatre during the start of the pandemic, despite intensive protests, and on the neglect of the Pyramid of Tirana. They speak of loss of not just cultural heritage, but of local and personal history, and what gets lost as Albania works to wipe away its past.

The Pyramid of Tirana – Source

A Coffee in the Accursed Mountains: The one with… mountain tea – A discussion by two British immigrants to Albania about coffee / tea customs and about mountain tea. Mountain tea in southern Albania is the same as the Greek kind, however, in Albania’s north and in Kosovo, mountain tea instead refers to tea made from marjoram instead. I tried the southern kind – it’s quite nice, like an earthier chamomile.

Ottoman History Podcast: Paraskevi Kyrias, Albania, and the United States at the Paris Peace Conference – A look at the post-WWI 1919 Paris Peace Conference through the diary of Paraskevi Kyrias (Parashqevi Qiriazi), one of the few women participating. Kyrias had championed women’s education, had been part of the team that standardized the Albanian alphabet, and advocated for Albania’s independence with skilled diplomacy at the 1919 Conference. The podcast also follows her legacy and the communist Albanian government’s initial rejection of her due to her Protestantism and American connections, and then their subsequent co-opting of her legacy later in her life.

TOGO: Podcasts

ECOWAS Bank Headquarters, Lomé – Source

It’s kind of frustrating to search for podcasts on/from Togo – you have to pick through podcasts about some Disney movie about a dog, or people writing “to go” with no space. However, I did find a few really good gems both in French and English.

It’s a Continent – Togo: Resisting Authoritarian Rule (En) – An wide-ranging interview with Togolese democracy activist Farida Nabourema, covering the ruling dynasty’s hold on the government, protests surrounding rigged elections, and her own family’s three generations of activism for human rights and democracy. She also touches on the use of social media for activism in Togo, African countries being held back by France’s conditions around the CFA franc, and immigration measures in western countries that both uphold the racial status quo and create brain drain in countries like Togo. I really strongly recommend this episode.

Les Voix du Togo (Fr) – Podcast interviewing interesting Togolese people. I listened to the interview with Bernard Adzorgenu – a journalist and graduate student, and a writer for L-Frii, open-source journalism in Togo. He talks about the challenge of accessing higher education in Togo, why he is studying English, the importance of equal access to education for women, his own love for kids and religion.

RFI Danse des Mots: Les femmes dans la presse togolaise (Fr) – Interview with Togolese journalist Simone Dakiche about the increasing role of women in Togo’s press, as well as challenges and sexism facing women in journalism not just in Togo, but around the world.

BBC Sporting Witness: Togo bus attack (En) – A retrospective on the 2010 attack on the Togolese national football team travelling to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

My African Clichés – Togo: le premier parricide de l’Afrique post-indépendance! (Fr) – A brief history of Togo’s independence, as well as the assassination of Togo’s first post-independence president Sylvanus Olympio.

CHILE: Podcasts

Valparaiso – Source

I’ve found an interesting variety of podcasts about Chile so far – unfortunately, they’re almost all from non-Chileans or expats. I can’t seem to find podcasts by Chileans in English (it’s not that widely spoken there), but this selection of podcasts does give a lot of interesting colour and context!

Wine 101: Chile – A brief look at the history of Chile’s wine industry, and a discussion of the huge variety of, well, varietals that are grown there today.

The Chile Today Podcast – This is the closest I got to a Chilean podcast in English – a pair of American expats living in Santiago sharing both news and tidbits about life in Chile. I listened to a recent episode that covered both elections, and several things in Chile that ex-pats may find challenging – mail, making new friends, Chilean Spanish, etc. An interesting linguistic point is that “carne” usually means “red meat”, so vegetarians may still be served shrimp or chicken!

BBC Cold War: Stories from the Big Freeze – The Coup in Chile – Part of BBC’s extensive history podcast on the Cold War, an overview of the CIA-backed coup that brought Pinochet the power, including testimony from witnesses and from Americans involved.

Summer In The Mix 2017 – For a music break, enjoy these dance mixes from Chilean DJ Danilo Perkelman for Flash FM, a techno/EDM radio station.

AQ Podcast: Chile’s Uncertain Future – A discussion with a Chilean political scientist over the recent elections and the decision to introduce a new constitution. It’s a conservative and market-focused discussion, but it raises interesting comparisons to constitutional change and issues of economic stability in other Latin American countries.

BBC Discovery: Megadrought in Chile – BBC investigating the serious drought conditions that have persisted in parts of Chile for now about a decade – natural cycles sent into overdrive by climate change. They also speak with Chilean experts and scientists about how people are attempting to adapt to the drought and the water restrictions (or lack thereof) in place.

This month: CHILE

I’ve spun the wheel and for June, I’ll be learning more about Chile! So, before I start, what do I know about Chile off the top of my head?

  • I know that it’s a pretty high-income and stable place today, but that it hasn’t always been. I know a bit about how an American-backed coup brought Pinochet’s dictatorship to power, though I don’t know much deeper on that, apart from it being a very dark time in country’s history.
  • I know that historically, much of modern-day Chile was part of the Inca empire. I wonder how much Inca or other indigenous influence still exists in the country today?
  • Chile is famous for its wines, especially robust reds (looking forward to taste-testing), though I don’t know much more about Chilean cuisine otherwise.
  • I know the Atacama desert, in the north of Chile, is the driest place on earth, which makes it very interesting for science and tourism.
  • Easter Island / Rapa Nui is under Chilean control, and while that island is almost mythical in people’s imaginations, there’s some really interesting actual history surrounding it. I recently listened to a great podcast from Our Fake History that unravels a lot of historical myths and misconceptions about Easter Island – particularly the the moai statues and the depopulation of the island.
  • I have no idea about much of the rest of Chile’s geography, apart from that it’s mountainous all the way down! I particularly would like to learn exactly why Chile is shaped like it is.

ALGERIA: More Podcasts

I had previously posted some podcasts in both English and French about Algeria, here’s another really interesting batch. Some are by Algerians, some from other countries, and I’ve marked which language they’re in. Enjoy!

Au cœur de l’Histoire : les années Bouteflika (Fr) – From French station Europe 1, a short biography of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Algerian president who was stopped from running a 5th time in 2019 by the Hirak movement.

Ottoman History Podcast – France & Algeria: Origins and Legacies (En) – An excellent interview with a historian about the early French colonization of Algeria, in the context of the real reasons (or lack thereof) for the French invasion, and how Algeria fits into larger systems of colonization and decolonization.

The Goodfolks Podcast (En) – A podcast series by Algerian grad students with interviews with interesting young Algerians. There’s a huge variety of people, academics, entrepreneurs, artists, heads of NGOs, activists, and many more. It’s all in English and is very sharp and candid.

Industrial Algeria (Fr) – An Algerian podcast that specifically interviews entrepreneurs – about their visions, their business, their success and challenges, with a specific focus on marketing.

BBC Witness History: Algeria’s Berbers (En) – A look back at the protests in Algeria in 2001 by the Amazigh for further protection of rights and enshrinement of Tamazight as a national language.

Radio ECO (Fr) – Another business interview podcast from Algeria – this one more aimed at interviews with established businesspeople in Algeria, with a focus on business tactics and the process of growing businesses. I listened to an interesting one by a restaurateur with a chain of locations on identifying potential customers and adapting to the pandemic.

Bellem et ses Hkayet: Djawed, ou plutôt les Djaweds (Fr) – A neat Algerian podcast by Mehdi Bellem, recounting short stories about the different lives of Algerians backed to music. The episode focuses on Djawed, a young man facing an unknown future – out of school early, no formal work.

Boomerang: France/Algérie avec Fellag (Fr) – An 2017 interview with French channel France Inter with Algerian actor and comedian Fellag about a new show about Algeria’s colonial period, his career, and his experiences as an Algerian moving between France and Algeria.

ALGERIA: Podcasts

Tadrart Rouge mountains – Source: Reddit

There are some really interesting podcasts both from Algeria and about Algeria, though there’s a sharp language divide between the two. There’s almost no Algerian podcasts in English, but there are tons in French and Arabic – and there’s an interesting content split between the two languages. Since French is still the language of higher education in Algeria, the podcasts I found in French tend to be more formal history / interview / culture podcasts, while more casual conversation / sport / music podcasts are usually in Arabic, since that’s what’s more frequently spoken in daily life.

The following podcasts are in French:

Radio Campus Algérie: Sawt El Shabab – This is more than campus radio, Radio Campus Algérie is a project giving university-level journalism students an opportunity to not just learn the ropes, but engage in real reporting – and that includes independent and investigative reporting in the real world. I listened to a podcast from August 2020 that was reporting on other Algerian journalists that had been jailed by the government – a topic that would be bold enough from a seasoned reporter. These students are fearless!

Radio Algérie: Histoire et Mémoire – A podcast from Algeria’s public broadcaster that focuses on different topics on Algerian history. I listened to a very interesting one on Frantz Fanon, the anti-colonial philosopher, as well as one on the research by French and Algerian historians into the use of napalm during the Algerian War.

Taste of Algeria – A great playlist of old Algerian vinyl records put together by Toukadime – a pair of Algerian DJs / music producers. This playlist gives a really interesting spread of Algerian oldies and folk music. No talking, just music.

Radio Algérie: Votre Week-end – A weekend digest every Thursday with a mix of music and interviews on socio-cultural topics. I listened to the most recent one, with an extended interview on how Algerian identity and community ideals are taught in schools. Previous ones touched on managing diabetes during Ramadan, seismic-proofing older communities, and plastic surgery.

Above Tizi OuzouSource

I also have some very interesting podcast episodes about Algeria (but generally not by Algerians) that are all in English:

BBC Music Planet: Algeria – Another good podcast covering different styles of Algerian music – short samples and commentary on the wide variety of folk music across the country.

Ottoman History Podcast: Saharan Jews in French Algeria – An interesting interview with a Jewish studies professor about the identities and citizenship (or lack thereof) of Saharan Jews in Algeria during the French colonial era. It’s not just a primer on the history of the Jewish people in Algeria, it’s a microcosm of a bigger discussion about how the French colonial bureaucracy shaped national and cultural identities in a way that’s still affecting all religious and ethnic groups in post-colonial Algeria.

BBC: The Harragas of Algeria – Some investigative journalism from 2015 from the BBC about the Harragas (“burners” of documents) of Algeria – those who try emigrate to Europe as undocumented migrants, as well as interviews with those that move to Algeria to set up businesses.

Ottoman History Podcast: Dark Humor from Algeria’s “Dark Decade” – Interviews with PhD students who are studying the Algerian humour and comedy that was used as a release and coping mechanism during the Dark Decade of the civil war in the 90s.