Cambridge Festival of Ideas launches this week with an array of events and cutting edge thinkers, tackling social, cultural and political change in a rapidly transforming world.
Participants will include Rowan Williams (the former Archbishop of Canterbury), Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor Gina Rippon, author and campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, politicians David Lammy and Ed Miliband and Professor Mary Beard.
The festival will run from 14th to 27th October with more than 270 events, most of them free. They will cover subjects ranging from climate change, Brexit, hate speech and the impact of artificial intelligence on society, to how to bring divided communities together after major trauma and who will look after us in our old age.
Change is the theme of this year’s festival and events will cover everything from social and political change to cultural transformation, with new research challenging traditional views of the past.
Events on social change will span how we care for the old in a rapidly ageing society, reproduction past and present, and addiction. In Who will look after us in our old age? on 21st October will ask who will look after us in our old age and how it will be funded? Will the crisis in carer recruitment require greater immigration? Will women still be relied upon to take on the burden of unpaid care? Or will social robots take up the slack?
Give and Take: How Giving Has Changed The World And Why It Matters on 19th October, will ask whether giving a gift must necessarily exclude hopes of a return to be considered a ‘good deed’. Based on a short film produced by Alexander Massmann and DragonLight Films, the event will include a discussion panel on the complex nature of gift giving for humans and their close relatives.
Rethinking drug addiction on 22nd October, will ask why current approaches to addiction are not working and question if this is a matter of economics, politics, ethics or education.
Events focusing on political change will include Is it possible to forgive and forget after major national traumas, a panel discussion on how we bring divided communities together after war or trauma. Drawing on the examples of East and West Germany, Korea, Japan, Burundi and South Africa, leading experts will discuss how we rebuild peace after traumatic division has riven communities, a subject of huge relevance in our increasingly divided world.
Other events will relate to widespread cultural change, including the Yoko Ono: Looking For… exhibition at the Ruskin Gallery, exploring themes of violence and healing, and the screening of two films by Yoko Ono.
The impact of historic political and social revolutions can be seen in events such as Maroon Nation on 17th October, where Dr Johnhenry Gonzalez, University Lecturer in Caribbean and Atlantic History, will talk about his new book on the history of Haiti and how the country went from the most profitable slave colony to the site of the only successful slave revolt in modern times. He will argue that Haiti’s early independent history has been the subject of relatively little basic research despite its historical significance.
Four events will commemorate 50 years since the Stonewall uprising, a landmark event for gay rights activism. In addition to panel discussions about the history of the uprising and the LGBTQ+ movement today, there will be screenings of two important films linked to events in New York in 1969 – Screaming Queens: The Riot At Compton’s Cafeteria and Marsha P Johnson On Film, celebrating trans activist and queer icon Marsha P. Johnson.
Other events will focus on new research changing our perspective on past eras. Bring Out Your Dead!: Destiny And Health In The Middle Ages will use actual life stories of people from medieval Cambridge, as revealed by multidisciplinary studies of their skeletons, to show the kind of health lottery faced by our ancestors. The session will also include an interactive game which allows you to play out the lives of typical people from the Middle Ages. Was the Plague the biggest health challenge facing them or were things like influenza and even toothache more deadly?
When: 14th – 27th October 2019
£: Most events are free
More info: www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk