In a time of uncertainty, Rethink offers a guide to a much-needed global 'reset moment', with leading international figures giving us glimpses of a better future post-pandemic. Each contribution explores a different aspect of public and private life that can be re-examined. Collectively, they offer a roadmap for positive change after a year of hardship. Broadcaster Amol Rajan is joined by Prof. Jude Browne, Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, who will be Rethinking Responsibility.
When Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared that Covid-19 would become “another illness that we have to live with … like flu”, an immediate question arose: what does it mean to learn to live with a new epidemic disease? If, as many experts predict, Covid-19 is not going away any time soon, what can the history of influenza teach us? Dr. Michael Bresalier, Lecturer in the History of Medicine at Swansea University, explores the history of influenza in the 20th century and traces the process by which humanity has adapted to influenza – an ever-changing process and enormous global challenge. He warns that any analogy to Covid-19 must be made with caution.
Writer/performer Michael Rosen shares his experience from the edge of life, as he battled Covid-19, in a life-affirming collection of poetry and words: Many Different Kinds of Love: A Story of Life, Death and the NHS. He reflects on the trauma and identity shift of being critically ill, the caring community of neighbours, loved ones, and NHS staff, who brought him back.
Jim Down, in his book, Life Support:Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis, says that life and death decisions are an everyday occurrence for a doctor running an intensive care unit, but nothing had prepared him for the events of spring 2020. He recounts how he and his colleagues transformed their hospital and ultimately faced down the biggest challenge in the history of the NHS. Told with warmth, honesty and humour, it is a moving testament to the everyday heroism of the NHS staff in a global crisis.
Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor who witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff and, for all the bleakness and fear, found that people rose to their best, upon facing the worst, as a microbe laid waste to the population. Her book, Breathtaking, draws on testimony from nursing acute and intensive care colleagues, as well as patients. She concludes that this age of contagion has inspired a profound attentiveness to, and gratitude for, what matters most in life.
Nature and travel writer Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act after suffering hypomania in the Alps while on a family holiday, and locked in a psychiatric ward. His book is a gripping account of how the mind can lose touch with reality, how we can fall apart and how we can be healed – or not – by treatment. It vividly describes the intensity of a manic experience, as well as its perils and strangeness, shot through with the love, kindness, humour and care of those who looked after him, and it is partly an investigation into how we understand and treat acute crises of mental health. Horatio Clare talks to Beth Underdown, novelist and Lecturer in Creative Writing.
Vaccine reluctance and refusal are no longer limited to the margins of society. Debates around the necessity of vaccines, along with questions about their side effects, have gone mainstream, blending with geopolitical conflicts, celebrity causes and 'natural' lifestyles to attract a growing number of hearts and minds.
The anthropologist argues that issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy stem from people feeling left out of the conversation. She examines the social vectors that transmit vaccine rumours around the globe and how they can be addressed.
Heidi Larson is Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science and the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project. Heidi is in conversation with Nicole Itano, Co-ordinator for the Global Recovery Collective and former lead of the United Nations initiative, Verified, aimed at combatting COVID-19 misinformation.
Discussing the experience of, and society's attitude to women and motherhood, the founder of The Everyday Sexism Project talks to Caitlin Moran, author of More Than a Woman – 'a celebration of middle-aged women who keep the world turning' –with Joeli Brearley, who founded Pregnant Then Screwed after being fired at four months pregnant, and Pragya Agarwal, whose book (M)otherhood is part memoir and part analysis of motherhood fertility, and how these affect all our lives.
Why is it that often the things we value most, from frontline nurses to the natural world, to caring for children, seem unimportant to economic markets? During his time as a G7 central banker and seven years as Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney witnessed the collapse of public trust in élites, globalisation, and technology, the challenges of the fourth Industrial Revolution and the growing climate emergency. Dharshini David, economist and broadcaster, examines how economic value and social values became blurred, and how to rethink and rebuild before it’s too late.
Instead of civic organizations, we join internet mobs. Instead of reasoned conversation, the voices of the angriest, most divisive participants are amplified. Rational voices are hard to hear; radicalization spreads quickly. Unsurprisingly, an internet controlled by a tiny number of secretive companies in Silicon Valley does not reflect democratic values of openness, accountability and respect for human rights. Instead, the current rules of online conversation are undermining our democracies. Why don’t we change them?
Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Anne Applebaum is author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University, New York.
To avoid global collapse, we need to re-think everything we do and take for granted, from growing and cooking food, to the economy and methods of governance. It demands a Renaissance, a re-birth, and it must be driven and led by us, because the governments, corporations and financiers dominating the world have lost touch with the moral and ecological realities of life. The good news is, millions of grassroots initiatives the world over are already moving in the right direction.
This Renaissance needs to have at its heart, people who have traditionally been on the margins of business and politics – women. From New Orleans to Bangladesh, women, especially poor women of colour, are suffering most from a crisis they have done nothing to cause. Yet where, in environmental policy, are the voices of elderly European women dying in heatwaves? Of African girls dropping out of school due to drought? Our highest-profile climate activists are women and girls; but, at the top table, it’s men deciding the Earth’s future.
We’re not all in it together – but we could be. Anne Karpf makes the case for visionary, global climate policies that are gender-inclusive and promote gender equality.
Anne Karpf, sociologist, journalist and author of How Women can Save the Planet and Colin Tudge, biologist, broadcaster and author of The Great Re-Think: A 21st Century Renaissance talk to journalist Rosie Boycott.
The final instalment of Levy's 'Living Autobiography' series is a thought-provoking and intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it. With her characteristic wit and acute insights, she crafts a searing examination of womanhood and ownership. Her possessions, real and imagined, push us as readers to question our cultural understanding of belonging and belongings and to consider the value of a woman's intellectual and personal life. Blending personal history, gender politics, philosophy, and literary theory, Real Estate is a compulsively readable narrative. Lisa Appignanesi is a writer, Chair of the Royal Society of Literature and a former president of English PEN.
Actor and activist Michael Sheen will join the professor Professor Daniel G. Williams and Member of the Senedd Leanne Wood, to discuss the life, work, and continued relevance of Raymond Williams, as a new centenary edition of his collected writings on Wales are published. Michael Sheen says, "Who Speaks for Wales is a truly landmark publication. It has had a profound effect on me and on countless others. The new afterword to this expanded centenary edition shows how Raymond Williams’ thinking is as important and relevant today as it has ever been." Williams noted that Welsh history testifies to a "quite extraordinary process of self-generation and regeneration, from what seemed impossible conditions." This discussion, ranging from 1920s Pandy to wartime Paris, from Extinction Rebellion to Yes Cymru, will be conducted with his words in mind.
How do we take the stigma out of mental illness? What steps can we take to enable us to speak more openly about our state of mind? Alastair Campbell (Living Better: How I Learned to Survive Depression) and Ruby Wax (And Now for the Good News) have both written and spoken openly about their struggles with depression, in the hope that it may encourage others to feel that mental health is no longer a taboo subject. Francine Stock is a writer and broadcaster.
Bonnie Greer, American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster, talks to trail-blazing Novara Media editor Ash Sarkar about a life in writing and activism. What has changed and what has remained the same? A unique view through the telescope of time from then to now and now to then.
Part of Lemn Sissay's George Floyd: One Year On series.
Whether it’s pastoral care for the bereaved, discussions about the afterlife with parishioners, or being called out to perform the last rites, death is part of a clergyman's routine. But when Reverend Richard Coles’ life partner died unexpectedly just before Christmas 2019, much about death took him by surprise: the volume of ‘sadmin’ you have to do, the simple pain of typing a text message to your partner – then remembering they are gone. In time, things do get better, and the Reverend’s deeply personal account of living through grief – and the lessons he has learnt along the way – resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one. He talks to psychotherapist Julia Samuel, author of This Too Shall Pass.
Ed Vaizey, former Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, leads a discussion on how our luxury brands can support our culture and its institutions in a time of crisis. On the panel is Neil Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal and Provost of Oriel College, Oxford University, Iwona Blazwick from The Whitechapel Gallery, and Nina Plowman is managing partner at top PR agency Cultural Comms.
#artsandculture #politicsandhealth #society
The great Chilean writer discusses her lifelong feminism and hard-won life lessons – "When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating". Her new book is a wise, warm, defiant manifesto, in which she calls for the need to live one’s old age to the full: "My story is told in every year I have lived and every wrinkle I have”. She talks to translator and editor Sophie Hughes.
“Covid-19 has revealed glaring failures and monstrous brutalities in the current capitalist system. It represents both a crisis and an opportunity. Everything depends on the actions that people take into their own hands.”
How does politics shape our world, our lives and our perceptions? How much of 'common sense' is actually driven by the ruling classes' needs and interests? And how are we to challenge the capitalist structures that now threaten all life on the planet? Consequences of Capitalism exposes the deep, often unseen connections between neoliberal 'common sense' and structural power. In making these linkages, we see how the current hegemony keeps social justice movements divided and marginalized. And, most importantly, we see how we can fight to overcome these divisions.
It it is estimated that in the UK alone there are tens of thousands of victims of modern slavery. Globally it is 40 million. When an 11-year-old girl from a small town in Wales was groomed into ‘county lines’ drug trafficking, it was the beginning of vicious descent into one abuse after another, involving a huge child-sex trafficking gang. Over several years Emily Vaughn estimates she was raped by 1,500 men. Now in her early thirties, she wants to expose this insidious aspect of modern slavery and help others who have gone through similar experiences. Emily is still in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and so for her own safety, she will be represented by her ghost writer Veronica Clark. Shaun Sawyer is the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall and the National Police Lead on Slavery and Trafficking. In conversation with Libby Sutcliffe, journalist/broadcaster and founder of www.slaveryfree.org.
Interpreting research on technology, neuroscience, arts, and ethics, the neuroscientist will examine some of the diverse challenges and opportunities that children and adolescents experience while navigating complex environments in the digital age. She explains how the brain interacts with different environments, how technological innovation can offer much-needed support yet also cause serious harm, and how the arts and music can provide powerful ways for young people to express themselves. Dr. Inkster is a neuroscientist, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and co-founder of Hip Hop Psych, which uses hip hop music to improve public engagement and awareness in mental health issues and psycho-education.
Delivering this year's lecture is Gary Younge is the professor of sociology at the University of Manchester, broadcaster and former columnist at the Guardian. He is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and has written five books, most recently Another Day in the Death of America: a Chronicle of ten Short Lives,. He has written for The New York Review of Books, Granta, GQ, The New York Times, Financial Times and New Statesman. His radio and TV documentaries cover subjects from gay marriage to Brexit.