Collab: GU History Podcast on the Spanish Civil War / August 31, 2020

With Nathan MacLennan, John Hill, and Robbie Paterson

Hosted by Arianna Clark Jasmine Hunt

Edited by Constantinos Stylianou

Posted in Collaboration Main feed

On this episode Jasmine and Arianna chat to Nathan, John, and Robbie about their History podcast “GUHS Podcast”. After discussing John’s latent carpentry ambitions, Arianna and Jasmine learn a lot of history in 5 minutes as the boys discuss their upcoming plans for future episodes, including one spawned by Robbie’s reading of George Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’.

Our episode of the GUHS podcast is live here. You can check out their other episodes on YouTube, and follow them on Facebook


John: You are left with a very muddy picture of history if you actually look at it and examine it thoroughly.

John: I don’t envy the person who has to edit this.
Arianna Clark: That would be me!

Jasmine Hunt: The benefits, of the listeners, I think they should know that as soon as Nathan said William of Orange you all collectively groaned and grimaced…

Nathan: I just want to say you may want to edit this out but I’m saying it anyway because is it the truth…
Arianna: Oh yeah, go for it…


Jasmine Hunt: Hello everyone! And welcome back to another episode of Thoughts. My name is Jasmine Hunt and I’m sitting within this virtual space here with Arianna Clark…

[Arianna Clark: I was very shielded from all of it; also I live in a very rural place where the only people I got to talk to were cows and my siblings which…they were not very different in their conversational style.]


JH: …Today we will be interviewing the fine men from the Glasgow University History society. Since all University based social gatherings became thoroughly rona-ed, Nathan McLennan, Callum Ferguson, John Hill and Robbie Paterson decided to start a podcast instead...

[Robbie Paterson: Uh, he was using this invented document that was wholly pulled out of the Pope’s arse, known as the Donation of Constantine…]

JH: …They’ve rejuvenated the society with their lively chat about all things historical, from Chernobyl to the Haitian Revolution. Hi guys! Thank you for coming on the show today.

(group hello)

Nathan McLennan: It’s good to be here.

John Hill: It is indeed.

AC: I’ll take the first question guys. So, how did this podcast come about?

John: Well um, to be honest it started out – the four of us are history lovers, history nerds, so we thought we’d just share that with people on YouTube…that’s pretty much where it started out but it seemed to do quite well, so recently we’ve started covering things more relevant to today. So, like with the Haitian Revolution where we attempt to put a spotlight on historical which are very unrepresented in society. So in this instance, black history. We’re very excited about it.

Nathan: As was mentioned in the intro, there really wasn’t much else we could do given the circumstances and it seemed like a really nice way of reaching out to the people who might be interested.

JH: So what are you all studying, then? I presume you’re all studying history.

John: Well, I’m studying history and English literature, so when I study history I often realty prefer literary history, so like Machiavelli’s The Prince and things like that.

Nathan: I’m doing history and politics, probably the most common boring combination but I quite like it.

Robbie: I’m also in that vein; I’m doing history and politics after I ran screaming from economics because, arghh numbers.

JH: From the philosophy side of things we can all agree, arghh numbers.

AC: Well to be fair I actually was studying maths and philosophy before I also went argh numbers. But I did like the numbers up until that point.

JH: Yeah we get logic and we can replace the numbers with symbols!

AC: So how did you guys get into history in the first place?

John: Well, personally I’ve always been quite bookish. I like just knowing random facts, and I basically grew up on QI as well. My dad and I used to watch it a lot, we’d watch that together and it just sort of tumbled into studying history at GCSE and A level. I did pretty well so I thought I’d take it further…and since then I’ve just been really loving history.

Nathan: What John doesn’t say is he was also considering becoming a carpenter and becoming Birmingham’s own brand of Jesus.


John: Very briefly, yes, haha.

JH: Really??

John: Yeah…

JH: You could always combine them and, um, make structures of historical figures out of wood.

John: That sounds like a new market that’s never been discovered.

AC: Yeah, you could do some sort of Bayeaux tapestry on the headboard of a bed or something.

John: I think you’re wildly overestimating my abilities

AC: I’m imagining like the Sistine Chapel of carpentry levels from you.

John: Well, I’m going to let you down and say all I’ve ever really successfully made, somewhat, is a jewellery box.

AC: Aww, that’s nice.

JH: It’s slightly more useful than a Sistine Chapel some may argue.

John: Yeah, true, more practical yeah. Less aesthetical.

AC: So I noticed you guys started with the Chernobyl episode, and you’ve gone to the Haitian Revolution and you’ve got a new one out today. Why do you choose the topics that you chose, what’s your thought process?

Nathan: Initially I think we tried to pick topics depending on what was the big anniversary in that particular month. And like all systems we tried it for a while and eventually got rid of it and picked up a new system which is whatever happened to be going on in the news that week that might make an interesting podcast.

JH: And so, what are your plans for the podcast then, in the future or once everything’s gone back to normal and we all go back to seeing each other in real life?

Nathan: My big concern is going to go the same way the actual history channel did and in a year’s time we’re going to be doing podcasts about ancient aliens and hunting Hitler. And various other interesting topics.


Nathan: We were actually thinking of doing maybe more in-depth podcasts. So instead of doing just an hour on a particular topic, we might do like an ongoing series of several different episodes, each covering a particular event in history. Say for example maybe a 6 part series detailing something like the Russian civil war or something like that.

AC: That would be cool. What have you got on the backburners at the moment; what are you guys thinking about publishing?

Nathan: Well, we were talking about doing one on the Spanish Civil War. I believe that was Robbie’s suggestion.

Robbie: Yeah…The Spanish civil war’s fascinating, and I got into it off the back of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and his experiences in the Spanish Civil War fighting for the POUM militia. The republican side especially is fascinating because there’s such a variety of different factions. So you had the anarchists; you had hardline Stalinists; you had general, sort of liberal democratic types, all sort of forced to collaborate on fighting the fascists and unfortunately they lost.

AC: Can you give us a quick run down of what happened? Like if you could surmise the Spanish Civil War in a sentence, how would you describe it?

Robbie: Probably one of Europe’s greatest tragedies, at least from my perspective.

AC: How so?

Robbie: Well, Spain up until the thirties was a very conservative country. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it was a comparatively underdeveloped country, by Western European standards, it had a lot of social stratification, immense power given to old institutions like the church and the monarchy which weren’t necessarily in the people’s interests. So in the thirties you had centuries of development happening all at once. You’ve got revolution in ’31 creates a republic and you’ve suddenly got whole new spectrums of political thought and cultural ideas being given a voice for the very first time. And sadly, that was all snuffed out in the Civil War. Reactionary elements took over, launched a rebellion actually and usurped what was the internationally recognised legitimate government of Spain. And it took many decades for Spain to get any of that back.

AC: It sound like it was a huge impact on Spain. So when do you think they started to recover?

Nathan: Probably when Franco died.

AC: When was that?

Nathan: That was…he died in ’75 and there was a transition to democracy. Obviously, Spain now is just a regular European Country.

AC: Because I just imagined that Spain was a democracy, from like, dot, but clearly not, it’s fairly new.

Nathan: Yeah, unusually new, and it wasn’t until ’82 that the democracy had been fully secured. So it’s a very recent thing.

AC: I had no idea that that…

JH: Jumping on top of that, do you feel that you have any moral obligation as historians to uncover and learn about history?

Nathan: I think maybe in the cases where the distortion of history is actually harmful then yeah, you do have a moral obligation. I mean there are some things that I think the modern history community get involved in that are maybe a little bit trivial. Like the movie Braveheart, for instance, we all know it’s historically inaccurate but who really cares. But it’s a whole different magnitude when you’re talking about the perception of, say, the Soviet Union and…or even in a more modern case the situation around China and the nature of its regime and what its been doing, so, yeah I think there’s a very different magnitude between those two things.

AC: Do you take pleasure in finding out bits that change your, like bits of history that change your perception of something?

John: Yeah, that’s one of the things I love most about history, it’s…it allows you to constantly review what you already know. And it always comes back to this idea which – and bringing it back to the philosophy society that Socrates said the only thing we know is that we know nothing, isn’t it? And that we know nothing…it’s all open to interpretation then, isn’t it?

JH: What I seem to get from this conversation is that reviewing history and trying to look at it from different perspectives seems to be one of the most valuable things when researching and learning history. And you all seem to have that viewpoint, and through your podcast it seems to be a really good way of not only debating but trying to uncover some truths, and learn about more. So, thank you so much for joining us on our episode of Thoughts, it’s been really really entertaining and really informative. We hope that many of our listeners will be able to come and listen to your podcast, so where can they find it?

John: Well, we have a Youtube channel, so they’re all on there but whenever we post them on the YouTube channel – you’ll watch them on that – we also inform all of you on our platforms on Instagram and on Facebook. So just type in Glasgow University History Society and you’ll be able to find it there.

JH: Awesome, so people will be able to go along and give you a follow and a like.

Robbie: We also have a view of getting it up onto other platforms on the future, so perhaps iTunes and perhaps Spotify.

JH: Awesome. So, if the listeners can give you guys a follow you will keep them up to date with what you’re doing. And yeah, thank you so much for joining us.

John: Thanks so much.

Robbie: Thanks very much for having us on.

Nathan: Thanks for having us.

AC: Yeah that’s been great, thank you.

JH: Noice.