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One of the few constants throughout Jewish history is that Jewish identity has never been simple, and the answer to the question of "Who is a Jew?" far from clear-cut. Rabbi Donniel Hartman, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel, says that at key moments over the last 3,000 years, Jews have reinvented or reimagined themselves in the context of their unique reality. Due to the cultural, historical, and psychological transformations that have taken place in the 20th and 21st centuries, this identity is once again at a crossroads. He explores how individual and collective identities throughout the millennia have been understood; how these earlier conceptions shape our understanding of who we are now and who we ought to be in the 21st century. Recorded on 05/19/2016.

In his new book, Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sports, UC San Diego alumnus and sports journalist Mark Johnson traces the doping culture in professional sports, from the early days when pills meant progress, to the current day, when athletes are vilified for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In his book, Johnson, who has covered cycling as a writer and photographer since the 1980s, explores the complex relationships that underlie elite sports culture.

Collectively rare disorders are more prevalent than cancer and many other commonly known diseases. It might seem obvious that something that is rare should warrant little of our attention. But science does not move in a straight line. A case could be made that exploratory, basic research might result in as much or more progress than research targeted only to the most common diseases. These choices must be made in the context of multiple stakeholders including healthcare professionals, scientists, funders of research, regulators, and patients. Hudson Freeze, Professor of Glycobiology & Director of the Human Genetics Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute explains the pervasiveness of rare disorders and the kinds of research being done.

Christopher Bollas, psychoanalyst and writer, asserts that mental life is innately hazardous. The steps we take through childhood are marked by mentally painful episodes that constitute ordinary breakdowns in the self. Adolescence stands as the most painful such period, during which some of the major disturbances of self arise, including anorexia, schizophrenia, bipolarity, and sociopathy. Rather than approaching mental pain as a condition to be ignored, minimized, or suppressed through medication, Bollas examines it as a constitutive element of human psychic development. Presented by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley. Recorded on 11/01/2016.

Shaunak Sen discusses his first feature length documentary which explores the world of insurgent sleepers' communities and the infamous "sleep mafia" in Delhi, where just securing a safe sleeping spot often becomes a question of life and death. Sen joined UCSB Professor of Film & Media Studies Bhaskar Sarkar. Recorded on 02/21/2017.
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