Author Archive

Humanising Trust in the Age of AI

Posted on: April 23rd, 2024 by mlpEditor

To human beings, trust is very personal, often domain specific, and influenced by lived experiences. Traditionally, trust has been focused around human to human relationships based upon a person’s integrity, honesty, dependability and the belief that a person will not cause harm. But what about Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence? How can we assess that? This topic which will be discussed in Dr Emily Collins’ Manchester Lit & Phil talk on 2nd May 2024, framed around trustworthy and responsible robotics.

The development of global ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) principles and guidelines, followed by the explosion of generative AI in the public domain in 2021, has led to a scramble to legislate AI based around core ethical principles. The EU AI Act – the first comprehensive legalisation based on a risk-based approach – was formally adopted in March 2024.

At the heart of the UK’s pro-regulation approach, five cross-sectoral principles based on Safety, security and robustness; Appropriate transparency and explainability; Fairness; Accountability and governance; and Contestability and redress, were adopted. Currently, these principles are down to individual regulators to interpret – but what will this practically mean for a human within society, the wider public and marginalised communities in terms of their rights?

Human trust is at the heart of responsible and ethical AI in society. In March 2024, The UK Government published its guidance on AI Assurance which emphasises the importance of trust, defining the context of justified trust as “where a person or group trust the use of an AI system based on reliable evidence”. The guidance provides a toolkit for organisations for measuring, evaluating, and communicating AI Assurance supported by some practical guidance. Some progress in this area is certainly being made.

However, to the person on the street who may have little awareness of the use of AI in their everyday lives and how it impacts them, understanding the risks and benefits of AI elements of a particular product or service prior to using it, may be overwhelming, and potentially lead to an increase in the digital divide in society.

So how do we ensure that humans have the confidence and trust in AI and that it is accessible to everyone?

The Peoples Panel in Artificial Intelligence was a project first funded by The Alan Turing Institute in 2022, and has since been adopted by Manchester City Council as part of Doing Digital Together. The original Peoples Panel was first established from community volunteers within Salford and Stockport through a series of community AI roadshows designed to reach and engage with traditionally marginalized communities and develop a common language and understanding around AI.

Community volunteers undertook two days of training, practically exploring ethical AI principles and learning techniques to consequence scanning how AI and data was used. They then scrutinised researchers and business in a series of live panels around new and emerging AI products. Confidence was shown to increase, and volunteers became advocates of debating and discussing AI in their own communities.

A second project, PEAS in PODS, trained up researchers as Public Engagement Ambassadors (PEAs) across three universities on public engagement and co-production. The PEAs are currently emersed in three co-produced AI related projects at Back on Track (Manchester), Inspire (Stockport) and The Tatton (Ordsall) led by the communities themselves. One such project is currently co-developing a Peoples Charter for AI – focused on what assurances people want from those organisations that adopt AI.

There is hope for the future: peoples voices – especially those that are hard to reach – are being heard.

And a bill on the regulation of artificial intelligence is currently making its way through the House of Lords. It is significant as it specifically mentions the role of meaningful public engagement and states “AI and its applications should…… meet the needs of those from lower socio-economic groups, older people and disabled people”.

As humans are unique, how we build trust in AI is also unique. But first, we need a mutual language of understanding about AI for everyone.

Message from our President – April 2024

Posted on: April 11th, 2024 by mlpEditor

April 2024

 

I hope this update finds you well and, for those who had the chance, well-rested after the Easter break. For those ending Ramadan, I wish you Eid Mubarak.

I will begin and end my message with a call to action:

 

Get inspired. Get involved.

My first invitation is to anyone wanting to help shape the future of Manchester Lit & Phil, increase its impact on our city and prepare it for the next 100 years.

If you are already a member, please engage with the review process starting this month. The Trustees want to hear your views as we develop a five-year plan.

If you are not a member, please consider joining. Our members are the engine that drives our purpose, generates ideas, and provides most of our volunteers. If membership is not for you, please continue actively engaging with our events and encourage others to attend.

 

What’s On

Our event programme continues to explore a variety of subjects. An event that caught my attention in our recent program was Developing the Meadow as an Urban Cultural Form with James Hitchmough. It was a topic of broad interest and well received, with a strong attendance. Most pleasingly, over a third of the people attending were visitors. I hope many of them will return in the future.

I am very much looking forward to several events: Our Percival Lecture, which is highlighted in the April newsletter, and our events on Espionage and Black Holes. I look forward to attending these and hope to see you there.

 

Sharing your feedback

In early April, we hosted our first drop-in online event for members. The focus was an overview of  Manchester Lit & Phil, the charity’s current challenges, and how we plan to move forward. This is the first of a series of sessions, with the next on how we can increase awareness of our organisation and events. Those unable to attend can be informed by reading the follow-up communication.

 

And to close, another call to action: you can help raise the profile of  Manchester Lit & Phil. For those of you using social media, any or all of the following will really make a difference:

  • Share events you are going to attend
  • Post reviews of events you have attended
  • Follow us on any of the platforms below

Facebook

X (Twitter)

Instagram

YouTube

 

I hope to see you at an event in the near future,

Peter Wright 

President 

How can we best help those in need during and after a Humanitarian Crisis?

Posted on: March 19th, 2024 by mlpEditor

What does it take to save lives in war, disaster, and disease?

Tony Redmond has over 30 years’ experience of responding to wars, disease outbreaks, and sudden onset disasters all around the world. In this recording of his highly engaging talk, he details the lessons learned, the improvements that have been made in the international response, and how we can continue to ensure the assistance provided is both effective and focused on those most in need.

He describes the type of medical assistance that is needed across the various types of humanitarian emergencies and how international support can best complement, and not compete with, the work of others and that of the affected country itself.

Delivering medical assistance during humanitarian crises, especially during conflicts, can be incredibly dangerous. Tony outlines how we can attempt to mitigate these risks, though never eliminate them. He describes his personal experiences of practicing medicine under fire.

A particular focus of the presentation is his work in Ukraine and that of his colleagues in UK-Med. He explains how the programs they are running there been shaped by their experience of delivering emergency medical aid to Sarajevo and Kosovo for the duration of the wars in the Balkans.

Helping those in need during a Humanitarian Crisis is not without personal cost. Tony discusses how we can look to reduce this amongst team members. He also gives an insight into the physical and mental challenges he has had to deal with – the legacy of over 30 years of committed work.

What are you drinking? A look at chemicals in the urban water cycle

Posted on: March 7th, 2024 by mlpEditor

When you turn on the tap to get a glass of water, do you think about where that water has come from? Or rather, where it’s been and what treatment processes it has had to go through?

It’s true that chemicals can extend, improve and enrich our health, wellbeing and life experiences. But the rate at which new chemicals are being generated is resulting in widespread contamination of water. Arguably, the impacts of chemicals in our environment represent the third greatest planetary crisis behind climate change and biodiversity loss. And yet they are inextricably linked to both.

Currently, more than 56% of the world’s human population lives in cities. And daily use, release and exposure to chemicals in our environment is an emerging concern.

In this recording of an online talk, Dr Leon Barron outlines how chemicals move in our urban water cycle. From the wastewater we generate, to river pollution, to contamination of our drinking water and their occurrence in both humans and biota. Advances in measurement technology has underpinned much of this, especially the use of mass spectrometry, to fingerprint chemical sources.

Leon describes the role of wastewater in understanding exposure to chemicals, with respect to continuous release of treated effluents to our rivers, lakes and seas. He also talks about using the analysis of wastewater generated in cities to understand consumption and exposure patterns to every-day-use chemicals – like pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, lifestyle chemicals and many others.

He assesses potential solutions to this issue, to ensure that we balance the environmental impacts of chemicals and their immense benefit to society.

If we’re going to survive and thrive in the future, there is no doubt that we will need to look after our water supply.

Message from our President – March 2024

Posted on: March 5th, 2024 by mlpEditor

March 2024

 

A reflection of where we are

As I write these updates, I often focus on the future, and how we can prepare and adapt the Lit & Phil to thrive in a changing world. That focus can often lead me to forget the good work that continues to go on and the progress we are already making.

I attended two online events in February, both of which reminded me why I was so keen to volunteer and help Manchester Lit & Phil: Dr Leon Barron, helping us understand the urban water cycle; and Mandy Baker, combining her passion for the planet and her photography to highlight the impact of plastic waste on our environment. Both events were balanced, fact-based, engaging and educational, with the subject matter being of broad interest.

In other areas, we have teams working on several exciting projects for 2024, and our recent partnership with The Wire, which has now published two articles, is increasing our website visits and the time people spend on the site – hopefully a precursor to an increase in event attendance. Our membership has also increased since the start of the year.

The Lit & Phil has so much to offer the population of Manchester. We still have a path of change ahead of us, but now we have celebrated our 243rd birthday I am confident that what we do from this point will allow us to hit the 250th anniversary in good health.

 

Moving forward

As I have mentioned previously, the next few months are focused on delivering our program but also defining the future direction of the society. Whilst I do not expect everyone in the Society to agree with what will be proposed, I do want to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, every member is informed and that a majority of our members back the changes.

Starting next week, we will issue a members-only newsletter to make everyone aware of the challenges we face and the options open to us. To allow dialogue, we will also be arranging virtual “drop-in sessions”, based on each topic to allow an open sharing of views and ideas.

 

A Lit & Phil by Manchester, for Manchester

You will have seen the call for new volunteers that was sent last week. This is the first of several requests we will be making for additional help. The roles mentioned in the last post are areas that need urgent attention.  The campaign was sent out to our entire mailing list as we want to widen our pool of active volunteers and hear from as many different voices as possible.

The value of cognitive diversity in driving new and innovative solutions has long been recognised. Due to our relatively small pool of active volunteers, several people currently have to fill multiple roles, which is a huge commitment on their part.

A ‘broader church’ approach will allow us to reduce the burden on individuals and will open opportunities for new ways of thinking.

 

First step on the journey

In mid-March, there will be a Trustee workshop to review and refresh our Mission, Vision and Strategic priorities. The outcome of this meeting will be communicated in the new members’ newsletter, and all members will have the chance to contribute towards the steps in the journey.

Whilst it’s true we have a long way to go to forge a Lit & Phil that truly serves Manchester, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s vital that we establish a solid foundation and shared ambition.

Please help us prepare for the future, please let us hear your voice and have your support.

 

Peter Wright 

President 

Interview with Dr Cynthia Johnston

Posted on: March 4th, 2024 by mlpEditor

Q: The Medieval period is perceived by some as ‘the Dark Ages’, a period of economic, intellectual and cultural decline. Based on your research, would you say this is a misconception?

A: Yes, I would say that is a rather old-fashioned view, but I think it survives despite the evidence. The term ‘Dark Ages’ has a resonance of romanticism about it, as a period which was difficult to document due to the collapse of the communication networks established by the Roman Empire. We know now that trade routes and communication across cultures continued to flourish across the period. The influence of the Islamic world pervades the art and architecture of the late medieval period. We can see this influence in ceramics, textiles, architecture, medieval book illumination and especially in the ‘carpet’ stained glass windows of the great cathedrals.

 

Q: What is it about this period in history that has captivated you so much as to want to study and teach it?

A: It was the sound of the language of Middle English which captivated me as an MA student at New York University in the early 1980s.

“While I found Chaucer’s language very accessible via its close connection with the English that we speak today, it was the dialect of the Gawain poet from the North-West Midlands, that I found most beautiful and appealing.”

 

Q: You are a lecturer on the History of the Book MA at the University of London – could you give us an insight into what one might expect from your course? And which book do you most enjoy referencing in your lectures? (if you can choose one, that is)

A: The MA/MRes in the History of the Book in the Institute of English Studies is the oldest programme of its kind in the world. It studies the making, manufacturing, distribution and reading of books, and thus offers a unique way of understanding different literary, cultural, social, intellectual, and technological processes in history. The subject extends to include newspapers, magazines, chapbooks, ephemera, digital text, and all kinds of printed or written media. It also includes the manuscript book in all its forms from the pre-classical, classical, and medieval periods.

“It is VERY difficult to choose a favourite book as a teaching object but I would say that has to be the medieval psalter. These types of books show us so much about their owners, and often give us information about individual lives: marriages, births and deaths.”

 

Q: Many of our members and followers will be avid book collectors and enthusiasts. With the advancements in technology made over the last thirty years or so, should we be worried or excited about the future of books and the way we consume information?

A: That is a huge question, but I am very optimistic about the survival of the codex. In 2011, I chaired a conference entitled ‘The Future Perfect of the Book’ with my colleague Wim Van Mierlo. Many of the conference attendees were concerned that the rise of the digital book would spell the end of the book in physical form, and that book shops would become things of the past. That culture has proved robust.

“It doesn’t seem that we are ready to part company with the physical book anytime soon. Research on the cognitive differences between reading text online and reading print from a physical book seems to suggest that these are two distinct cognitive experiences that can happily co-exist.”

 

Thank you to Cynthia for taking the time to answer our questions.

Cynthia Johnston will be giving her talk – Getting Medieval with Stranger Things – at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on the 7th March 2024.

Guest writer Jasmine Baines shares her takeaways from Mandy Barker’s talk

Posted on: February 22nd, 2024 by mlpEditor

On 19th February 2024, artist Mandy Barker delivered a poignant online talk on her evocative photography of marine plastic debris.

Introducing herself, Barker explained that she began photographing mass accumulations of plastic to draw attention to something that has become commonplace: litter on our beaches. Barker talked us through her projects, spanning a career laden with global recognition.

A number of her works capture plastic on a black background, arranged to mimic the natural world it is invading – dolphin pods, jellyfish, even plankton – reflecting how plastic permeates, altering nature’s very building blocks. Nurdles, for example, absorb oceanic toxins and are then consumed by wildlife, thus polluting fish and birds. I was shocked by the incessant, all-encompassing nature of plastic dominance that Barker’s work foregrounds.

Barker’s work has a scientific grounding, and her presentation reflected this. After attending a talk by a scientist that detailed the plastic-laden stomach contents of a 30-day-old albatross chick, Barker was shocked that this was not common knowledge. Determined to assist, she has worked closely with scientists since.

In 2012 Barker joined a scientific expedition sailing from Japan to Hawaii. Trawling across the debris field, they tracked plastic waste and rafting organisms still circulating from the Japanese tsunami a year earlier. Her emotive images emit the urgency her lived experience has instilled within her to raise awareness of the dangers of marine plastic pollution.

Emulating the Edward Degas quote, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”, Barker’s message was one of raising awareness – interestingly, she targets children, capturing Smartie lids, bath toys, and action figures of Shrek, Hello Kitty, and Mickey Mouse, speaking the globally transferable language of childhood.

A member of the audience echoed my thoughts when they queried if it would be more appropriate to target industrial leaders, responsible for causing, and surely correcting, the most damage. My mind wandered to the effects of instilling anxiety amongst children, potentially making them feel unjust responsibility. Barker responded simply that both audiences are crucial. And by educating children they will consume less, and place pressure on bodies wielding the power for large-scale change. As her work has been published in fifty countries, including within the school curriculum, Barker is certainly achieving her goal to educate and influence consumer choices.

When asked at the conclusion if the oceans can be cleaned, Barker explained we must first halt the stream of debris – “if a bath is overflowing, tackle the tap before you mop the spillage”. The awareness Barker raises is the first step – hopefully those in power are listening.

Plastic Ocean

Posted on: February 21st, 2024 by mlpEditor

In this recording of an online talk, we explore a photographic artist’s response to the worrying state of our oceans today.

Oceans are essential to life on earth. They cover more than 70% of the planet’s surface, regulate the climate, and supply the oxygen we need to survive. But every year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans, affecting marine environments, biodiversity, over 700 different species, and ultimately human health.

For more than 13 years, artist Mandy Barker has created different series of work to try to engage new audiences with the harmful effects of marine plastic pollution. Captions alongside Mandy’s work detail the ‘ingredients’ of the plastic objects photographed, list brands, or provide descriptions about locations and countries and what was recovered there. The aim is to provide the viewer with a realisation of what exists in our oceans. It is hoped that raising awareness of the scale of plastic pollution that is affecting our oceans, through the passing on of these facts combined with scientific research, will ultimately lead the viewer to want to make change and take action.

Mandy writes:

“Art alone cannot change the world. But by bringing attention to marine plastic pollution in this way, it is hoped my work will help inform, and raise awareness about the overconsumption of plastic and the wider issue of climate change, and in doing so encourage a wider audience to want to do something about it.”

Interview with Professor Tony Redmond OBE

Posted on: February 15th, 2024 by mlpEditor

Q: What was the first humanitarian aid mission that you got involved in and what motivated you to take part in it?

A: The first humanitarian mission I got involved with was in 1988, following the Earthquake in Armenia. What motivated me was the size of the disaster (which is now estimated to have caused between 25,000 and 50,000 casualties) and the poignancy of it being part of the then Soviet Union with its President, Gorbachev, visiting New York at the time.

Hopes were so high that the Cold War might be thawing and then the terrible earthquake occurred. Remarkably, Gorbachev asked for international help so me and some colleagues from the volunteer prehospital care team we had established in Manchester felt compelled to offer our help, which was accepted.

 

Q: The armed conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza have been widely reported on in the Western media. What sort of work are you and UK-Med, of which you’re a founder, doing in these regions?

A: I founded UK-Med (a frontline humanitarian medical NGO) in 1988, originally as the South Manchester Accident Rescue Team (SMART), which acted in support of the rescue and ambulance services here. Since our first overseas aid mission to Armenia, we have responded to every major earthquake thereafter, disease outbreaks around the world, including Ebola in Sierra Leone and the DRC, and conflicts in Sarajevo, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Gaza (twice), Yemen, Myanmar, and Ukraine.

We have been running a range of programmes across Ukraine since a week after the war began. Currently, we are running programmes in reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation, mobile primary care clinics, mental health support, advanced trauma training, and mass casualty training.

In Gaza we have had a surgical team there for a few months and are treating war injuries, especially in children.

 

Q: There have been significant advancements in technology since you embarked on your career 30 years ago. What sort of improvements in international response efforts, if any, have you seen as a result?

A: There have been huge improvements over the last 30 years. For example, we have established international minimum standards for medical teams and an international registration system to ensure the right care, from the right teams, gets to the right people, at the right time.

The biggest technical improvement has probably been the mobile phone and, when these fail (not commonly now), lightweight handheld satellite phones. These mean you can consult with anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. They also improve security. When I was first deployed, I was unreachable until I got back.

“From a medical perspective, the advent of portable handheld ultrasound machines means you can now perform lifesaving internal examinations at the bedside, in a tent. We now have a portable digital X-ray machine which we can use on patients. We can even use it in remote areas as it’s run off the generator that we use to power the field hospital.”

We can now also use handheld ‘point of care’ blood testing devices – a pinprick of blood can be analysed at the bedside using a small handheld device. It gives you an instant readout of most of what we used to need a full laboratory for. (I introduced these into the Manchester Nightingale hospital, of which I was Medical Director during the Covid-19 pandemic, as there was no onsite laboratory).

 

Q: Delivering medical assistance in such crises is incredibly dangerous. To give readers a further insight into the unique and extremely high-risk nature of humanitarian aid work, would you mind sharing details of some of the dangerous situations you have found yourself in.

A: The work is definitely dangerous. It takes its toll on those who do it and, especially, on those nearest and dearest to them. It’s certainly not for everyone.

“You will be scared – and I have been terrified many times – but you must be able to contain your fear and function. You equally can’t be cavalier, as doing so places both you and your team in danger, and if you or they die, you won’t help anyone. I still bear the physical and mental scars of this work.”

I was poisoned with heavy metals in Kosovo which hospitalised me and required many months of treatment. It left me with permanent neurological problems. I broke my back while working on a remote island in the South China Sea which has since left me with a shortened, curved spine, and ongoing symptoms.

I have found the constant threat of danger, that something could happen any minute, almost more stressful than when it does. I worked in Sarajevo for almost 4 years and the stress was terrible. There was constant shelling and sniper fire and I twice narrowly missed being shot by snipers, with the bullets going just over my head. Tank shells frequently exploded nearby, once just outside where I was sleeping. Colleagues died. I still have nightmares.

I was in Ukraine a year or so ago when 55 cruise missiles went over in the night. Most were shot down, but the debris killed people on the ground near to where I was staying. Having worked in the wars in Sarajevo and Kosovo I was prepared and found that I could draw on those experiences during these times.

 

Q: How do you remain optimistic, hopeful and motivated about your work and your desire to provide aid around the world, in such challenging conditions?

A: I have seen so many people do such good things. Giving of themselves so selflessly despite the awful risks, doing it simply to help someone in need. I have also received the most enormous kindness from those in greatest need. I have obviously also seen very bad people doing very bad things.

“I am not at all religious, but I know from experience that there are far more good people than bad people, and that goodness always prevails, no matter how long it takes.”

 

Thank you to Tony for taking the time to answer our questions.

Tony Redmond will be giving his talk – How can we best help those in need during and after a Humanitarian Crisis?– at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on the 12th March 2024.

Interview with Professor Jade Munslow Ong

Posted on: February 14th, 2024 by mlpEditor

Q: Modernism was a hugely significant art movement that produced ground-breaking, experimental works. How would you define it and what does it stand for?

A: Modernism is typically defined as an artistic, cultural, and philosophical movement that emerged around the turn of the twentieth century. It’s associated primarily with European and American creatives and thinkers who used experimental forms to represent, and respond to, a modern world shaped by empire, industrialisation and urbanisation.

This included new technologies and transport, wars, shifts in scientific and political thinking, the rise of the New Woman and women’s rights. One of the mantras of the movement is Ezra Pound’s slogan ‘Make It New’, which captures the idea that modernism breaks with tradition, revising and reworking older forms to create new and innovative art, music, literature and architecture.

 

Q: How did you come to be particularly interested in South African modernism?

A: I spent a lot of time in South Africa when I was growing up, so I developed an interest in its literatures, histories and cultures. I then studied postcolonial literature and theory at university and wrote my PhD thesis and first book on the first South African novelist, Olive Schreiner (1855-1920).

“My particular interest in the role played by South African writers in the development of literary modernism came about through my work on Schreiner’s fiction because she uses techniques and ideas that are now considered hallmarks of modernism. What’s so fascinating about this is that she’s doing so as early as the 1870s, and from the colonial peripheries. So, she’s writing from outside of the times and places that we traditionally associate with the modernist movement.”

Building on this earlier work, I’m now leading an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project that investigates the forms and politics of South African literary modernism from the nineteenth century to the present day. There are various South African writers that our team consider as both theorists and practitioners of modernism – Solomon Plaatje, William Plomer, Lewis Nkosi, Bessie Head, JM Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer and Damon Galgut, to name but a few. These writers are connected both personally and textually to other global modernists and modernisms from all over the world, and part of our work involves tracing some of those connections.

 

Q: To this day, South Africa remains tormented by deep-seated, long-standing socio-political problems. What role, if any, did Modernism play in healing or hindering these problems?

A: Modernist forms are so malleable and varied that they have been mobilised in support of a wide spectrum of political ideas and ideologies, and in many cases, refused any political or social function or allegiance whatsoever.

I think the reason that South African literature emerged in a modernist idiom has to do with South Africa’s uniquely prolonged colonial condition, that arguably stretched all the way from the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch East India Company in 1652, to the end of apartheid in the 1990s.

“Modernism, with its interest in cross-cultural representations, fragmentation, and combinations of tradition and innovation, became the mode through which to represent the unevenness of this experience, in which European economic, political, and cultural structures so detached from their African worldviews and ways of life were imposed and enforced over centuries. I’d argue that there is a connection between modernist expression and anti-colonial and anti-apartheid resistance that can be traced across the works of many of the writers that I mentioned earlier.”

 

Q: If we want to begin to appreciate and understand South African Modernism, through its literature and poetry, where should we start?

A: I’ve already mentioned a few, but would also add the English-language writers H.I.E. Dhlomo, Athol Fugard, Can Themba, Njabulo Ndebele and Ivan Vladislavić; plus Xhosa-language writer S.E.K. Mqhayi; and Afrikaans writers André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, Adam Small, Karel Schoeman and Marlene van Niekerk. I’m currently working on a co-edited collection with Professor Andrew van der Vlies (University of Adelaide) on South African modernisms and we have solicited chapters about many of these and other writers.

We’ve got some exciting contributions on South African modernist art and photography too, including by Irma Stern, Dumile Feni, Nichols Hlobo, William Kentridge, David Goldblatt and Albert Adams.  The University of Salford Art Collections holds one of the largest archives of Adams’s work – including paintings, prints and studio ephemera – and there is a permanent display of his paintings in the Albert Adams room at The Old Fire Station (where the Percival lecture is taking place).

 

Q: What research project/s are you working on in 2024? Is there one project that you’re particularly looking forward to? If so, why?

A: I have lots of things that I’m really excited about this year! I was in Johannesburg with filmmaker Simon Stanton-Sharma in January making a documentary film about female e-hailing (using a smartphone app to request a ride) drivers that we’re currently editing to send to film festivals.

I’m also working with an international research team, Further Education colleges in the Northwest, and exam boards AQA and WJEC Eduqas, on a project to decolonise the English Literature A-Level. We’ll be travelling to Sweden, South Africa and Australia over the next 18 months, working with 16–18-year-old learners and their teachers to create a range of resources to support this – everything from recorded lectures and teacher toolkits to video essays, podcasts and TikToks!

And I’m really looking forward to my co-authored book with Matthew Whittle, Global Literature and the Environment, coming out with Routledge in August. So, all in all, a lovely combination of celebrations, collaborations and activities to be getting on with!

 

Thank you to Jade for taking the time to answer our questions.

Jade Munslow Ong will be giving this year’s Percival Lecture – South Africa’s Modernism, Modernism’s South Africa – at the University of Salford on the 18th April 2024.

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