When slavery was abolished across most of the British Empire in 1833, it was not the newly liberated who received compensation, but the tens of thousands of enslavers who were paid millions of pounds in government money. The descendants of some of those slave owners are among the wealthiest and most powerful people in Britain today.
In Blood Legacy: Reckoning with a Family’s Story of Slavery, through the story of his own family’s history as slave and plantation owners, Alex Renton explores what inheritance – political, economic, moral and spiritual – has been passed to both the descendants of the slave owners and the descendants of the enslaved. He also asks how the former – himself among them – can begin to make reparations for the past.
Over the past two years, our need for nature has become clearer than ever. But we’ve learned how unequal access to it is. Key spokespeople behind the Nature is a Human Right campaign share facts and stats, discuss the socio-political influences excluding millions from green spaces, and put forward ideas for what we can do about it.
Nick Hayes is co-founder of the Right to Roam campaign and author of The Book of Trespass; Ellen Miles is founder of the Nature is a Human Right campaign and a guerrilla gardener; Louisa Adjoa Parker writes on rural racism; and Daniel Raven-Ellison founded the National Park City initiative.
In 2015 Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”. Using a wide range of interviews and crossing the boundary between reporting and fiction, she writes in a way that lets human voices speak for themselves. In 2018 she won the Anna Politkovskaya Award from the human rights organisation RAW in WAR, honouring women journalists and human rights defenders working in war and conflict zones. Mariana Katzarova is founder of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) and the Anna Politkovskaya Award. In 2014, she led the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission’s team in Eastern Ukraine for two years at the start of the armed conflict. The duo hold a conversation about a region that has historically suffered from a conflict that is now threatening the whole world.
In The Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda is the true story of a refugee child. This event explores why and how author Mary Loudon, with dramatist and director Nicola Moran, created a theatre company to perform and tour the world première of this global bestseller, raising thousands of pounds for refugee charity Young Roots. Mary and Nicola share this story in a half hour discussion with one of Britain’s best-known actors Harriet Walter, followed by a showing of the film of the performance, which was shot during a live show at the Oxford Playhouse. After the film, Harriet Walter will lead a short audience Q&A.
The world continues to manifest racism in many forms. To discuss the issue with journalist Julia Wheeler and give their different perspectives on writing about race are: Musa Okwonga, broadcaster, musician and author of One of Them: An Eton College Memoir; Georgina Lawton, journalist and author of Raceless: In Search of Family, Identity, and the Truth About Where I Belong; and scientist Adam Rutherford, author of How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality.
In Hayden’s book Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route she follows the shocking experiences of refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe and surveys the bigger picture: the negligence of NGOs and corruption within the United Nations; the economics of the 21st-century slave trade and the EU’s bankrolling of Libyan militias; the trials of people smugglers, the frustrations of aid workers, the loopholes refugees seek out and the role of social media in crowdfunding ransoms. Who was accountable for the abuse? Where were the people finding solutions? Why wasn't it being widely reported?
Andrea Elliott’s book Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in New York City has just won the Pulitzer Prize 2022 for General Non-Fiction. In a tour de force of immersive reporting, Elliott follows eight years in the life of Dasani Coates, a homeless girl in New York City whose tight-knit family confronts hunger, violence, racism, and punitive government systems with deep historical roots. When Dasani finally escapes the city, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?
Leslie Thomas QC is author of Do Right and Fear No One, an account of an idealistic and outspoken lawyer’s coming-of-age and a powerful portrait of the lives of those he has fought for. Lady Brenda Hale retired as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the UK’s most senior judge, in January 2020. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is a distinguished lawyer and advocate of civil liberties and human rights. These three exceptional experts talk about speaking the truth and the power of law with writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn.
Baddiel’s Jews Don’t Count is a book for people on the right side of history. People fighting the good fight against homophobia, disablism, transphobia and, particularly, racism. The comedian and writer follows the antisemitism he finds in his Twitter feed and, with a combination of reasoning, polemic, personal experience and humour, argues that those who think of themselves as on the right side of history have often ignored the history of antisemitism. He outlines to historian Simon Schama why and how, in a time of intensely heightened awareness of minorities and the discriminations they face, Jews don’t count as a real minority.