Bringing the humanities to life
We asked our festival hub in Aberdeen to answer some questions about their Bringing the arts and humanities to life series of events. The hub programme ranges from radio broadcasts to church tours, with plenty in between. Events in museums, galleries and cinemas will explore the overlapping histories and cultures of the city – from Vikings and medieval Aberdonians to Romanian artists and Polish migrants. A headline talk from Terry Waite (CBE) will explore what it means to ‘be human’ under extreme conditions, while right across the city a vibrant programme promises to bring the humanities to life. Here’s what they had to say.
Can you tell us a bit about your programming?
We are very excited about our diverse and rich programme for 2015. It allows us to showcase the range of research and creative thinking from across the University of Aberdeen. It’s been a challenge as there is so much that is relevant to society and to the human condition…the challenge has been to fit it all in!
What inspired you to get involved with Being Human 2015?
Having had a hugely successful involvement in Being Human 2014, and becoming a hub for 2015, we did not want to miss the chance that this offered us. It allows us to bring so much research to a variety of audiences across Aberdeen and participate in a unique festival that highlights humanities research. Festivals in the city currently celebrate science, jazz and dance among other things, but this is the only celebration of the thinking involved in what it is to be us.
How did you come up with your theme for this year?
This year’s theme, Bringing the arts and humanities to life, was designed to expose the rich diversity of the research taking place at the university. The theme came quite naturally; we are pretty spoilt at the University of Aberdeen as we are surrounded by experts in their various fields constantly challenging themselves by what they see in their environment. Using this broad theme has enabled the researchers to engage audiences in a multitude of ways eg philosophy in pubs, history in coffee houses, classics on social media and language lessons on street corners.
Can you tell us about a few highlights from your programme?
The undoubted headline for us this year is Terry Waite’s discussion about retaining his humanity over the course of five years captivity, much of it spent in almost total solitude. Other highlights include ‘home or abroad’, a discussion on the integration of Polish and other Eastern European immigrant communities into Scottish society. Gender issues are also brought to the fore in ‘should women play football with men?’ This talk tackles the issue of men and women not competing with each other in sports competitions.
What will people in Aberdeen get out of coming to these events?
Being Human seeks to explore what it is to be human – based around prominent, contemporary issues that feed the mind of audiences, provoke cultural debate and identity, and bring different audiences together. We hope that while in Aberdeen, the humanities speakers and experts will offer Aberdonians a unique perspective upon which the festival thrives. For those who come to meet us and see our festival in action, we hope it provides new ways in which to experience how the humanities can inspire and enrich people’s lives.
What do you think the legacy of this year’s festival will be?
This will help to embed Being Human as the unique festival that explores what it means to be human in Aberdeen. It has such character and distinctiveness that we have applied for it to become a part of the Aberdeen Festivals Collective. This will make Being Human more visible to a greater number of people and will really extend its reach. It is an exciting time for humanities research at the University of Aberdeen as well as for the Being Human festival.