The writer and tech-geek reimagines Tim Berners-Lee’s invention and asks how the mantra 'This is for Everyone' can play now in a digital sphere of social media, hacking and global connectivity. With BBC Click's Spencer Kelly.
This small country, tucked in the northwestern corner of the Horn of Africa, is a template for what is achievable on the continent. And it’s an antidote to the constant cycle of pessimism about Africa that dominates the Western thought on the current state of the continent. How did the country move from famine, poverty and war to a thriving and prosperous multi-party democracy? Harper is Africa Editor at the BBC World Service and author of Getting Somalia Wrong; Mire is a Swedish-Somali archaeologist.
The Australian writer and thinker is often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher. He is known especially for his work on the ethics of our treatment of animals, for his controversial critique of the sanctity of life ethics in bioethics, and for his writing on the obligations of the affluent to aid those living in extreme poverty. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Most Good You Can Do, The Life You Can Save, Famine, Affluence and Morality, and most recently Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter. He talks to the Festival president.
It’s 100 years since drugs were first banned, and drug use and drug crime have continued to grow steadily across the world. What are people addicted to? Are any of the policies adopted around the world based on scientific data? Are any of them working? Hari is the author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War Against Drugs; Hitchens is the author of The War We Never Fought. Chaired by Hernando Alvarez, editor of BBC Mundo.
In a world of broken institutions and failing states, of corrupted democracies and of post-truth politicians; in a world of fake news, faith schools and fundamentalism, we need a rational and humane voice. We need a new Enlightenment. Where do we start?
We are delighted to launch Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble by the bestselling author of Stalingrad, Berlin and D-Day.
On 16 December 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back.
The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in western Europe. American troops, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians fled, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While many American soldiers fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters that slowed the German advance.
The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the eastern front. And after massacres by the Waffen-SS, even American generals approved when their men shot down surrendering Germans. The Ardennes was the battle that finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.
Tharoor is a renowned politician and author of The Great Indian Novel, Pax Indica and From Midnight to the Millennium. His latest collection of essays, written during Narendra Modi’s premiership, is India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in Our Time. Faleiro is author of Beautiful Thing and 13 Men – a report on gang rape in West Bengal. Chaired by Oliver Balch.
In 2000, the member countries of the United Nations set themselves a challenge: achieve the targets of the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015, to improve the lives of the world’s citizens. What’s next for our global ambitions, our post-2015 goals? How can we describe the world we want, to achieve sustainable development, track our progress and hold governments everywhere to account? The former head of statistics at UNESCO, an adviser to the United Nations, and the CEO of Oxfam talk to Hetan Shah, the chief executive of the Royal Statistical Society.
As Greek finance minister, Varoufakis confronted the EU head-on over debt. He tells a tale of brinkmanship, hypocrisy, collusion and betrayal, and he issues an urgent call to renew European democracy.
The BBC’s Middle East Editor returns home to bring the news from Mosul, Gaza and Jerusalem. His 25-part series for Radio 4 about the region’s history starts on 15 May. He combines first-hand accounts from the front line with analysis of the politics, economics and societies he’s reported on since he first arrived in the Gulf in 1990. Chaired by Peter Florence.
The award-winning Magnum photographer discusses his 30-year career shooting conflicts, vanishing traditions and contemporary culture with the Artistic Director of the Royal Academy. He presents his latest book From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail. This brand new collection documents all the important coffee-growing communities around the world. McCurry’s striking colour portraits reach beyond the physical processes, to capture the very essence of these communities: ‘This project is about coffee, but not in a literal sense. It’s about how we live, about how people interact with one another.’
Photo: Bruno Barbey
Can climate fiction ever change minds, or does it merely confirm existing attitudes in the mind of the reader who chooses to read a book of that nature? Are more climate-related books aimed at children because their enquiring minds are supposed to be more open? Author and founder of Climate Outreach Information Network George Marshall talks to INSPIRE’s Jane Davidson, and authors Saci Lloyd and David Thorpe.
In this first of the Festival's flagship 30th anniversary project sessions, the Spanish international trade lawyer re-imagines the European Union. González Durántez was previously the Middle East Adviser to the External Relations Commissioner in the European Union, having started her career as a trade negotiator at the World Trade Organisation. Chaired by Matthew d’Ancona.
Economics is broken. It has failed to predict or prevent financial crises that have shaken the foundations of our societies and perpetuated austerity and poverty. The Oxford academic identifies the seven critical ways in which mainstream economics has led us astray, and sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity into a sweet spot that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet. En route, she deconstructs the character of ‘rational economic man’ and explains what really makes us tick. Raworth has worked as Senior Researcher at Oxfam, and was co-author of the UN’s Human Development Report.
Five short arguments about flashpoints in the Freedom of Speech debates – porn, blasphemy, Israel, national security. Where do we draw the lines? And why?
The author of the magnificent book The Silk Roads proposes a new way of understanding the past and of connecting context and ideas so that we might learn the lessons of history. Frankopan is Director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University. Chaired by Peter Florence.
Everyone has experience, and the deeper your experience of a given subject or area, the greater your expertise. In a culture that trumpets anti-intellectualism, how might we reconcile and re-present academic expertise and practical experience? Churchwell is professorial fellow in American literature and chair of public understanding of the humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Baroness Warsi’s book The Enemy Within identifies British Muslims as the latest in a long line of ‘others’ to be feared and demonised. The UK’s first Muslim cabinet minister explores questions of cultural difference, terrorism, surveillance, social justice, religious freedom, integration and the meaning of ‘British values’ with Helena Kennedy. She proffers necessary and inconvenient truths and proposes new ways forward for British Muslims, politicians and society.
An interview with the musician and activist, who was arrested after her punk band’s 2012 performance in a Moscow cathedral. She was convicted of 'hooliganism motivated by religious hatred' and sentenced to two years penal servitude. Nadya Tolokno now has permanent residency in Canada, from where she continues to protest human rights abuses. Introduced by Rachael Jolley.
Where do we belong? What passport and what papers do we carry? The international human rights lawyer proposes a new form of internationalist identity, and the adoption of the Tobin Tax that would help fund a universally available Citizenship of the World. Chaired by Guto Harri.
A rare interview with the great Polish novelist, who discusses her multi-award-winning fiction Flights. Perfectly intertwining travel narratives and reflections on travel with observations on the body and on life and death, Tokarczuk guides the reader beyond the surface layer of modernity and deeper and deeper towards the core of the very nature of humankind. From the C17th, we have the story of the real Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg, discovering in so doing the Achilles tendon. From the present we have the trials and tribulations of a wife accompanying her much older professor husband as he teaches a course on a cruise ship in the Greek islands, or the quest of a Polish woman who immigrated to New Zealand as a teen but must now return in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart…
The leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have transformed our understanding of our daily communication through social media, email and mobile phones. Scholars from Cardiff University’s research project Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society will discuss the practices, implications and broader meanings of mass surveillance. Does it work? How does it work, and who and what is monitored? How does it affect civil rights? Have we been properly informed, and how should the media report? How can we protect ourselves?
On the 50th anniversary of the last execution to take place in the UK, Malkani, a lecturer at Birmingham Law School, discusses why we are better off without the death penalty and why British efforts to promote the worldwide abolition of capital punishment should be supported. UN statistics suggest the five countries with the highest number of state executions annually are, in order, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
The 1918 global flu pandemic wiped out around 50 million people. In the last 300 years there have been around three flu pandemics every century. We must constantly be on alert for the next one. Global efforts, including those of Professor Derek Smith, to understand how pandemics are caused, will help us mitigate and even prevent future pandemics. However this work has the perverse downside of also generating new, potentially deadly, viruses in the laboratory. Professor Derek Smith will talk about the ethical issues this raises. Chaired by Dan Davis.
In 1519 an arrogant and unscrupulous man sailed from the Caribbean with orders to find a missing Spanish expedition. He immediately set about carving himself an empire in modern Mexico, while the governor of Cuba sent a force out to kill him. Hernán Cortés explored the coast to Veracruz then struck inland, seduced by tales of a great empire rich in gold. He found the largest and best-run city on earth and reduced it to rubble.
Award-winning travel writer and historian John Harrison followed in his footsteps for four months, finding the jungle ruins and sophisticated hilltop cities which put the lie to the popular image of the Aztecs and their neighbours as bloodthirsty savages. Popular accounts always suggest Cortés was mistaken for a returning god; the truth is very different and far more interesting. Both the Spanish and the Aztecs thought that the world was coming to a close soon, and that they were pleasing their gods in performing vital last deeds.