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Podcast Picks: Eff The Tudors

Elizabeth Walsh on why we need to educate ourselves about unrepresented historical figures and how the podcast Eff The Tudors can help us do this.

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Image Credit: Spotify Studios

As the government blatantly ignored the petitions to decolonise the curriculum last June following the Black Lives Matter Movement, Ben Pollard-and Jenny Recaldin - two recent Exeter graduates  decided to take matters into their own hands. The result : Eff The Tudors. An engaging new podcast focused on the lives and work of unrepresented historical figures, including women and members of the BAME and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Taking a stand against the predominantly white, straight, and male curriculum taught most often in school history lessons, the duo aim to give more recognition to the figures we so often don't hear about. Through their podcast, Ben and Jenny hope to work towards making history more inclusive for everyone, especially those who aren't as well represented by the textbook content we are most frequently exposed to.

Both Ben and Jenny developed a passion for performing comedy at university and so were excited by the prospect of being able to record a historical podcast aimed at educating themselves and listeners in an informative yet comedic way. However, as with all new ventures, the initial trial runs were not all plain sailing. They almost gave up after three or four attempts before deciding to persevere with it. The first episode was released in November last year and they are now moving onto their second series with even more stimulating content.

Every episode is meticulously researched and well thought out, meaning listeners can be assured that they are in safe hands. A new episode of Eff The Tudors is currently being released every Thursday, with each episode lasting around an hour. While we remain in lockdown, now is the perfect time to tune in and educate yourselves about these important yet largely marginalized figures. I have certainly enjoyed learning about new individuals as well as their forgotten backgrounds and cultures in this relaxed yet enlightening format.

One episode that particularly made me stop and think was Season 2 Episode 5: Gender fluid Abolitionists and Bisexual Communist Affairs. First to be discussed was the disabled bisexual artist Frida Kahlo who went on to become a world wide symbol for bisexual women. Her paintings are well known, but her life story is much less so. Although tragic, I found her upbringing and life story to be endlessly fascinating. Hailing from Mexico, Frida experienced early life during the Mexican Revolution with her family often cooking for the revolutionaries.

Indigenismo became a theme of her artwork and she even went as far as to pretend she was born in 1907 as opposed to 1910, to connect herself more closely with the Mexican Liberation. Her choice of dress is also touched upon in the episode with Ben explaining that she chose to wear traditional attire, especially that worn in traditional matriarchal societies, to express her anti-colonial sentiments. Despite being recognised during her life, Kahlo only became revered to the level she is today in the 1970s. Her cultural importance is now so widely acknowledged that Mexico has banned exports of her paintings.

Half way through the podcast our attention is turned to a second figure. Romaine-la-Prophtesse, a gender non conforming free black person who played a fundamental role in Haitian independence. Born in 1750 in French occupied Haiti, they were born Romain Rivier and assigned male at birth. Jenny then went into detail about the difficult and interesting geography of the area. At the time, the island was split into two separate colonies, which today are recognised as two split sovereign states: the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Before starting, Jenny also provided a helpful trigger warning about the content in case listeners wanted to skip the story, and throughout used the pronouns They/Them when talking about Romaine-la-Prophtesse. This reminded listeners to use They/Them if in doubt, and was an insightful reminder to be mindful of the words we use.

Eff The Tudors is a podcast I think everyone should listen to. Whether you choose to tune in for one episode or all of them, there is a lot to be educated about and this lively podcast is the perfect place to do so.

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