As this year gradually draws to a close, we can all agree that 2020 will go down in history as a year of many political upheavals, amongst other things. From humanitarian protests to coups and various regime changes, this year has done much to shape the political landscape in our various societies. Most of all, the US elections has captivated global attention and all of its attendant drama is still unfolding before us.
If this year has taught us anything at all, the lesson would be that despite our litany of differences (race, wealth, ideologies), we all are still as interconnected as we have ever been. Our world is one global village binding both the developed and underdeveloped countries into one; political activities or decisions taken in one part of the world can directly impact countries on a completely different side of the globe.
It is important that we look beyond our immediate communities from time to time. The political discussion can’t just focus on American politics alone, fascinating though it may be, because there is more to politics than the Democratic and Republican political saga.
That being said, here are seven podcasts to tune into to help you grasp political issues outside of the United States:
Hosted by Mark Leon Goldberg, the managing editor of the UN, the Global Dispatches is a UN podcast and is a wonderful resource for understanding foreign policies, world politics and global events. This podcast features credible journalists from around the world, famous policymakers, diplomats and scholars versed in their chosen fields. The topics discussed on this platform range from world politics and current affairs to the often under-reported news, trends and topics from parts of the world, often shunned by mainstream media.
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Each topic explored in a podcast show is examined with great attention to detail. Back in 2016, The Guardian named Global Dispatches as “One of 27 Podcasts to Make You Smarter”. Reputable guests that have been featured on the podcast include journalist Fareed Zakaria, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner Beatrice Fihn amongst others.
This podcast is premised on what the host calls the ‘GZero’; a play on the G-7 or a G-20. For a little more context here, the GZero refers to a world where the United States no longer plays the role of the global police officer and in a world where no other country will step into the role or job. The GZero discusses a world made volatile by an intensifying international battle for power and influence and regardless of whether you are already deep into your understanding of the forces behind global power dynamics, or just getting started with learning what’s at play behind the political scenes, this podcast will prove valuable for you.
GZero is hosted by Eurasia Group founder and renowned political scientist, Ian Bremmer, who does an incredible job of interviewing and leading conversations that pull back the veil on the factors influencing global dominance in our modern world to make the concepts accessible to the average individual wherever he/she may be. The podcast discusses topical global issues with guests, world leaders and thought leaders shaping our GZERO who are shaping the GZero. Episodes are released weekly.
Time and time again, Africa has been described by Western media houses as a continent of extremes. The continent has been repeatedly portrayed as either the poorest, sickest, disease-stricken region of our world or painted in some other negative light when mentioned at all. In response to these crude generalisations and narratives, there has been a growing chorus of voices calling for better reporting of Africa and one of the podcasts currently making strides in this regard is Africa Today by BBC.
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The BBC brings its long years of credible journalism as well as its in-depth reporting experience to bear in this podcast. Sometimes more news coverage than an interview-style podcast, it features various news items and relevant affairs in the African continent, analysed from the BBC’s Focus on Africa. The Africa Today podcast is published daily from Monday to Friday and covers top stories from across the African continent.
4. The Diplomat
The Diplomat is the podcast to listen to if you want to be updated on the politics and current affairs of the Asia-Pacific region. Its focus is on foreign policies, the international actors and various other issues flowing daily from this corner of the globe. It is a great podcast not just for anyone with interest in this area but also for any government, NGO or military officials interested in geopolitical issues stemming from Asia.
Hosted by Ankit Panda, guests include commentators, policymakers and academics who offer expert opinions on wide-ranging political issues in the Asia-Pacific region. From defense and intelligence, environment, human security and development, arts or popular culture, weekly episodes do a deep dive to keep you updated on the issues in Asia.
Considered the premier podcast on European politics, EU Confidential has proven to be an authoritative source in the workings of European politics. This comes as no surprise since Politico Europe frequently been voted as the most influential publication on European affairs. Despite its relative newness to the Brussels media landscape, non-partisan media company Politico Europe has ranked above legacy media businesses such as the Financial Times and The Economist.
EU Confidential discusses issues from Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London and other cities across Europe. Episodes are released weekly.
By now, you will have come across the term ‘climate change’ often enough to educate yourself on what the words represent. Of the many components that make up the Arctic environment, the cryosphere is the most sensitive to the effects of changing climate. The cryosphere includes sea ice, seasonal snow cover, glaciers and ice caps, permafrost, river and lake ice. All of these are effective indicators of climatic trends and vital to various climate feedbacks because they reflect changes in energy, moisture and pretty much everything else.
Thus the podcast Polar Geopolitics analyzes the local and global implications of rapid climate change and rising international interest in the Arctic and Antarctica. This podcast is centered around in-depth discussions with climate scientists and other experts on a wide array of topics relevant to the northern and southern polar regions. In light of the environmental and political importance of the region at this time, this is essential listening for environmentalists. Produced in Stockholm by Eric Paglia, episodes are released twice per quarter.
Polity focuses on political, legal, economic and social issues in South Africa and Africa, as well as international affairs. This podcast strives to provide readers with reliable and objective reporting on important issues.
Africa deserves fair and unbiased news coverage without Western stereotypes and biases. The wonderful thing about this podcast is that unlike most others, presenters try as much as possible to shed light on African issues from the African perspective. Episodes are released daily.
It’s undeniable that we’re currently living in the golden age of podcasts. It is also crystal clear that politics across the globe is undergoing an astonishing degree of rapid change. Whether you’re looking to dive into the world of podcasts, or just want to become more in tune with the happenings across the world, these podcasts are sure to come in handy.
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Cover image by Andrea Piacquadio.