Monday, 8 October 2012

New Humanist Podcast October 2012: circumcision, forced marriage, and the myth of the mummy's curse

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Length – 36:40

In the October 2012 edition of the New Humanist podcast, editor Caspar Melville talks to three of the contributors to our September/October issue.

First, he meets the writer and documentary producer Toby Lichtig to discuss one of the hot issues of the moment – male circumcision (00:40). Since a court in Germany ruled that the circumcision of infant boys constitutes "bodily harm", the ethics of the procedure have been widely debated, and the subject is explored by Toby in his piece in the current issue of New Humanist. Is it a violation of human rights to circumcise a child, or is it a harmless ethnic signifier? And what about the supposed health benefits? Tune into the podcast to hear Toby's take on the debate.

We go from one contentious issue to another, as in the second part of the podcast Caspar talks to Sarah Ditum, who has written about forced marriage in the latest magazine (09:53). Each year, hundreds of children in the UK are forced into marriages against their will, and the authorities often lack the knowledge or the power to intervene. In the podcast, Sarah explains the cultural origins of forced marriages, and discusses what is being done to protect those at risk.

In the final section, Caspar speaks to cultural historian Roger Luckhurst, who has just written a fascinating new book on the myth of the mummy's curse (19:40). Where does the myth come from (not from Ancient Egypt, you may be surprised to hear), and why does it have such resonance in Western culture?

Podcast music by Andrea Rocca.

To listen to the podcast, which is just over 36 minutes long, use the player below, subscribe via RSS or email, or download the full file via our podcast page, where you can also find the full archive of the podcasts we published during 2008-9. We're also on iTunes - just search for "New Humanist" in the store and select the podcast subtitled "The podcast for godless people".



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