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The Popperian Podcast

May 31, 2021

This episode of the Popperian Podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with James Kierstead. They speak about Karl Popper’s work The Open Society and Its Enemies, the years that Popper spent in New Zealand writing this book, what Popper thought about his adopted country, Popper’s attack on Plato for his “unmitigated authoritarianism”, how valid this attack was, the controversy surrounding the book and how we should examine it today in light of new scholarship, and the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of expression for the Open Society.

James Kierstead was born into a Canadian army family and grew up in Canada, Germany, and England. He got the chance to learn Greek and Latin at Sherborne School in Dorset after winning a scholarship and subsequently studied classics (Literae Humaniores) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and ancient history at King's College London. After that, James moved to California, where he studied political theory and wrote a PhD thesis on Athenian democracy under Professor Josiah Ober. Since coming to Wellington in 2013 he has continued to research and teach in the field of ancient Greek democracy, and he also oversees the Victoria Ancient Theatre Society (VATS), which produces an ancient play every year. James also spent a little time in Athens over the years; in 2016 he was an Early Career Fellow at the British School at Athens, and also spent time at the American School and the German and Canadian Institutes, as well as volunteering with the Agora Excavations and Museum.

*** Karl Popper's Open Society and its Enemies, and its Enemies ((PDF) Karl Popper's Open Society and its Enemies, and its Enemies | James Kierstead -

*** Free Kiwis! (James Kierstead - YouTube).

*** You can follow James Kierstead’s ongoing work at: James Kierstead | Victoria University of Wellington - and James Kierstead Profile | Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington (

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*** Underlying artwork by Arturo Espinosa