Nazir Afzal in conversation with Darryl Morris

Posted on: September 19th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Nazir Afzal was told that justice wasn’t for him. As a young man, facing racism and violence, his father had warned him off calling the police. “The police are just not interested in you… there is no justice.” he said. There is no justice.

Several decades later, with a fire lit in his stomach, justice became Nazir’s life. In his role as a Chief Prosecutor, he tackled some of the most violent and harrowing criminal cases and brought justice to parts of the community that it had previously failed to reach.

In what promises to be a wide-ranging conversation, Nazir Afzal will speak to Times Radio’s Darryl Morris about his life and career on the frontline of the British legal system. From tackling Rochdale’s sex ring, to risking everything with pioneering cases against perpetrators of honour killings and modern slavery. Nazir will tell the stories that helped shape modern Britain, as witnessed firsthand from the prosecutor’s office.

Now Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Nazir is regularly called on by the BBC, ITV and Sky News for his take on politics and popular culture and will share his view on the current state of the justice system, where it finds itself today, and if there are still people for whom ‘there is no justice.’

Northerners: From the Ice Age to the Present Day

Posted on: September 11th, 2023 by mlpEditor

How have northerners shaped the world we live in today?

Brian Groom, author of the bestselling Northerners: A History, From the Ice Age to the Present Day, will outline 180 million years of history showing how the north’s people have shaped Britain and the world in unexpected ways.

Manchester was at the heart of it, from the Roman era to becoming the nineteenth century’s ‘shock city’. Brian will show how the past echoes down the centuries and explore what northernness means today and the crucial role that Manchester and the north can play in Britain’s future.

Northern England, fashioned by waves of migration, invasions and battles, has had a profound impact on European culture and the global economy. It was not just the Industrial Revolution, viewed by economic historians as the key event in human history – and in which Manchester played a globally decisive role. At least six Roman emperors ruled for a period from the north. And the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria was Europe’s leading cultural and intellectual centre.

Northern writers, activists, artists and comedians are celebrated the world over, from Wordsworth, the Brontes and Gaskell to LS Lowry, Emmeline Pankhurst and Peter Kay. St Oswald and Bede shaped the spiritual and cultural landscapes of Britain and Europe, and the world was revolutionised by the inventions of Richard Arkwright and the Stephensons. The north has exported some of sport’s biggest names and defined the sound of generations, from the Beatles to Britpop.

Join us at this Lit & Phil Local event to celebrate the history and future of the north, and northernness!


**This is a ‘Lit & Phil Local’ event. Priority booking is offered to local communities.**

The Chinese in Britain – the latest chapter

Posted on: August 22nd, 2023 by mlpEditor

How do the recent influx of Chinese migrants from Hong Kong compare to previous ones in British history?

The Chinese in Britain are a simultaneously visible and invisible community. Historically rooted in the port cities of Liverpool and London – as witnessed by their once bustling Chinatowns – the Chinese diaspora in Britain has now spread to towns and cities throughout the UK.

Much Chinese immigration to Britain has stemmed from political upheaval in China in the last century. Compared to the diaspora in the US, the influence of Britain’s historic ties to Hong Kong has been apparent. Families are overwhelmingly from Guangdong, China’s southern region, and mainly Cantonese speaking.

The economic and social pressures that greeted many of these refugee families were often similar to those experienced by the Windrush generation. The pace of Chinese immigration to Britain picked up as Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997 became imminent.

Another influence is the role British universities have played since the 1970s, in training successive generations of Chinese scientists. Bilateral exchanges have created valuable connections to a multi-ethnic country of continental proportions. Cultural and educational links formed with Britain have meant that Chinese migration, predominantly from Hong Kong, has been enriched by a small but growing settlement from other Chinese regions, together with inward investment.

In this event with Newsnight Economics Editor Ben Chu, we will seek to address questions such as what are the barriers to integration for this specific cohort of young British-born Chinese, sometimes tagged as “BBC Chinese”? How might their aspirations and world view be influenced by the experience of being torn from Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan 24/7 oriental hothouse atmosphere to a distant European alternate “motherland”? Could their imposed isolation and diminished status as refugees give rise to a growing nostalgia for Chinese culture? And might they be susceptible to blandishments from Beijing aimed at the Chinese Diaspora?

George Monbiot in Conversation with Sarah Bridle

Posted on: August 21st, 2023 by mlpEditor

One of our most fearless voices on nature, climate change and the environment, George Monbiot’s new book, Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet considers a way to grow more food with less farming and transform our relationship with the Earth. Through discoveries about fertility, perennial grains and new ways of growing protein and fats, George demonstrates how cutting edge thinking and tiny lifeforms could save the planet and provoke a regenesis. A passionate and eloquent speaker, George is committed to working with others to defend the natural world he loves and counts Greta Thunberg, Robert Macfarlane and Yanis Varoufakis amongst his many fans.

Presented by Manchester Literature Festival in partnership with Manchester Lit & Phil.


TO BOOK TICKETS: visit the event page on HOME’s website

Reparations for our slavery links – how might they work?

Posted on: August 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

The battle for reparations for the illegal trafficking, torture, murder and exploitation of enslaved Africans during Britain’s slave-trading era is gaining traction. Influential organisations, institutions, and individual families have acknowledged their guilt and have offered to pay financial compensation.

Robert Beckford will argue that, while those who have diligently campaigned for reparations for over half a century welcome these developments, they should also be cautious.

His presentation will identify three areas of immediate concern. These are ‘miscalculation’ of the debt,’ the ‘erasure of Black campaign history’ and ‘hegemonic control of the compensation narrative.’

The lecture will also consider an alternative programme for meaningful restorative justice based on ‘liberative ethics,’ ‘constructive engagement’, and ‘historiographies of the underside.’


This event forms part of the Manchester Lit & Phil’s programme of events following the publication of the Report by researchers from the University of Central Lancashire’s Institute for Black Atlantic Research: The Manchester Lit & Phil and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1780-1865.

Impressions of an uplifting partnership event with MACFEST

Posted on: July 31st, 2023 by mlpEditor

Our international event on the 9th July in partnership with MACFEST – Kindness, Integrity and Leadership in a troubled world – was a truly memorable occasion.

It brought together two speakers of considerable eminence and international repute: Professor Akbar Ahmad from Washington DC, and Professor Karin Voigt from Heidelberg. Both shared insights from their own individual scholarship and life-long commitment to the promotion of diversity and intercultural harmony and the event was ably hosted by our very own President, Ian Cameron.

The international speakers navigated their way through an engaging and uplifting discussion on the timeless value of compassion, kindness and integrity in sustaining benevolent, successful leadership through the ages. A recording of the online event can be watched on MACFEST’s Facebook page.

The event also brought the Lit & Phil to the attention of a wider international audience, many of whom said they had felt privileged and indeed enriched to have attended.

Typical of the many after event posts from across the world:

“….an enthralling interaction; and that is what is so badly needed in the present troubled times; kindness, compassion but, above all, tolerance.”

Most evocative of all was a brilliantly observed overview from a student at American University’s School of International Service, in an article since published in one of Pakistan’s most popular English Language newspapers, “The Daily Times”: Planting a Seed.

The article concludes with the sentiment that:

“…the timeless value of human compassion surpasses the ever-changing technology, customs, and protocols of our current day; and carries a message not only of hope, but also of what one can do on an individual level, by “planting the seedling of kindness to all those around you”.

The online event marked the beginning of a mutually beneficial collaboration with the multi-award winning MACFEST organisation and its inspirational founder and director, Qaisra Shahraz. We’re really looking forward to partnering with them again next year.

If you or the organisation you work for are interested in collaborating with the Lit & Phil, please get in touch. We’d love to hear your ideas.


Dhun Daji, Elected Member of the Manchester Lit & Phil’s Council

China: A view from the Bridge

Posted on: July 26th, 2023 by mlpEditor

How does contemporary China perceive the United Kingdom? What is the nature of the special relationship between these two historic ex-imperial powers of East and West? How has Britain’s recent departure from the EU affected this relationship?

More generally, we may ask what are China’s perceptions and common misperceptions of the UK affecting trade and diplomacy? And what is the legacy from Britain’s 19th and 20th century engagements with China and Hong Kong?

Who better to address such questions than the two special guests at this ‘in conversation’ event: Cindy Yu and Mark Logan MP. Both Cindy and Mark are Masters graduates in contemporary Chinese studies from Oxford University and fluent mandarin speakers. Cindy Yu is Assistant Editor at The Spectator and presenter of the Chinese Whispers podcast. Mark Logan is currently the Conservative MP for Bolton North East and vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China. They can be said to ‘bridge the culture divide’ between China and the UK.

Manchester’s connections with China are of course not only historic, but extend to recent twinnings, notably between the cities of Manchester and Wuhan. There are strong ties between Manchester’s universities and research centres throughout China. And Manchester’s high schools and several Confucius Institutes in the NW region play an important part in promoting mandarin and Chinese language studies, in part acknowledging the growing Chinese diaspora in the NW region.

Join us for what promises to be an enlightening discussion on the nature of our relationship with China today.

Delivering the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Strategy

Posted on: July 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

What does the future of healthcare look like for our region? Sir Richard Leese is the man to tell us.

The 2022 Health and Care Act created Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) across the whole of England. Greater Manchester ICS came into existence on July 1st that year. NHS Greater Manchester and our region’s ten Councils are now charged with working together to improve population health, to tackle health inequalities, deliver good value-for-money health and care services, and have regard for the wider economic and social role of the NHS.

At the core of Greater Manchester’s ICS’s approach to meeting these challenges is a neighbourhood model that integrates and aligns NHS and Council Services. But improving population health must mean addressing the social determinants of poor health. And this goes far beyond the provision of integrated care services, however effective they may be.

The NHS and Councils have come together with a vast array of stakeholders, including citizens themselves, in the GM Integrated Care Partnership. In March this year the partnership board signed off the comprehensive medium term strategy to meet the objectives set in legislation.

Following that, in late June 2023, the GM Integrated Care Board agreed its 5 year Forward Plan, setting out how the healthcare strategy was going to be delivered and how it would measure and account for that delivery.

It is an immense endeavour that will require the broadest engagement. But Richard Leese and his dedicated team believe it sets out a route to a far, far healthier and happier city-region.

Join us for this talk to hear the inside story on how the vision will be delivered.

Interview with Qaisra Shahraz

Posted on: July 5th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Q: MACFEST was founded in 2017 following the Manchester Arena attack, to bring Muslim and non-Muslim communities together. What progress, if any, have you seen in connecting communities in Greater Manchester since then? 

A: People of all faiths, ages and backgrounds have come together at our events to watch films, perform together, listen to poetry and musical concerts, enjoy art exhibitions, and meet people from migrant communities.

“MACFEST facilitates getting to know about the art and cultural heritage of Muslim civilisations as well as having nuanced debates and discussions in safe spaces.”

While other organisations closed during the pandemic, we delivered 75 events in an attempt to connect people who were feeling isolated without their communities.

The festival has provided an excellent platform that celebrates both aspiring and established writers, poets, artists and cultural champions. With an outstanding commitment to inclusion at our festivals, we host at least 10 Muslim communities in Greater Manchester that represent every continent. We’ve also worked with schools to enrich their curriculums by encouraging them to practice multiple art forms and celebrate cultural diversity.


Q: To date, which MACFEST events do you think have been most impactful? And what have been your personal highlights?  

A: There are so many to choose from!  Our annual celebration of poets reciting in their own languages or hearing the music and sounds of different countries. Or our 25 annual women events that included dance performances from Turkey and Indonesia. Plus, child-friendly discussions on race and climate change.  So many of our events over the years have had a huge, positive impact. This is especially true of our collaborations with schools which encouraged young children to express themselves creatively, embrace their cultures and diversity in general.

Many of my favourites from this year celebrate and showcase the lives and work of Muslim women, such as: an exhibition of female Afghani artists living under Taliban rule, a performance by Sudanese girls and Turkish women, learning about three centuries of female Muslim travel writers as well as the challenges faced by a deaf film maker on International Women’s Day.


Q: We’re really looking forward to our joint online event on the 9th of July: ‘Kindness & Integrity – Leadership in a troubled world’. Why did you find it important to organise this event at this time? 

A: Personally, I’m a huge fan of Professor Akbar’s work. His mere presence enriches our festival, as it did two years ago. The topic that he chose ties in beautifully with his lifelong commitment to building bridges and promoting harmony between people of faith.

“We are living in a troubled world filled with conflicts and divisions. Cultures of hate and the ‘othering’ of people persist.”

All the while, extremists stoke the fires of division.  So, there is a real need for leaders to take ownership of their actions and words to promote peace and kindness in the world.


Q: How does Professor Akbar Ahmed’s work align with MACFEST’s ambitions?

A: MACFEST’s mission is to challenge Islamophobia, break barriers, promote community and social cohesion and, of course, spread sweetness with our slogan ‘Spread Honey Not Hate.’ The marvellous work of Professor Akbar Ahmed – an academic, author, poet, playwright, filmmaker, former diplomat and, of course, ardent promoter of interfaith dialogue – aligns beautifully with MACFEST and its mission.

Internationally applauded and recognised for his incredible feat of achievements and work, he has devoted his whole life – through his bestselling books, travel documentaries, historical film, poetry and plays – to promoting peace and a better understanding of history, Muslims and building bridges.

“Professor Akbar is a leading figure in the Muslim world and is highly respected for his intellect and nuanced discussions on contemporary issues. The BBC rightly called him, ‘the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam’.”

Most importantly, for creating a space for dialogue between people of all faiths, including with the Jewish communities.


Q: You have many accolades, including being an accomplished novelist. Why do you think your novels have achieved such popularity at home and abroad, especially in Germany where some of your books are taught in schools?  

A: I arrived in the UK at a young age, carrying valuable childhood memories of Pakistan with me. These memories served me well, enabling me to write about my home country in my first three novels. As a migrant woman growing up in Manchester, I was fascinated by my multiple identities. This was the inspiration for my early stories, including the famous ones, A Pair of Jeans and Escape, both prescribed literary texts for the German Abitur, the equivalent to A-Level English.

I am more known in Germany than in the UK as thousands of students have been studying my books since 1996. They are popular because of their content – they deal with migrant and cultural issues, relevant to Germany which is a country with a large migrant population.

“These stories enabled me to visit German schools, build cultural bridges and have nuanced discussions with students and their teachers on various issues including debunking myths about Islam and Muslim women.”

Thanks to my stories, I met Professor Karin Vogt from Heidelberg, who is also on the international panel of our partnership event. I have taken part in her university teacher training programmes, highlighting to her trainees the importance of celebrating diversity, inclusion, and to ‘get out of one’s box’, to look beyond our own little world, to respect other people’s norms, faiths, cultures, and ways of lives. It works both ways.

Through our strong and valuable friendship both Karin and I have found that our lives are totally enriched by being part of and learning about each other’s world. She has visited my Pakistani Muslim household in Manchester and met my family. I have stayed with her in her German household and watched her beautiful children grow over time. I’m delighted she too joining us for the online discussion.

Kindness & Integrity – Leadership in a troubled world

Posted on: May 23rd, 2023 by mlpEditor

It is said people get the leaders they deserve. If this is true, can we all change so that leaders realise that leading with kindness, integrity, compassion and mutual respect is the way forward for maintaining a stable and peaceful world order?

In a special collaboration with MACFEST, the Muslim Arts and Culture Festival, the Manchester Lit & Phil are delighted and honoured to be hosting an ‘in conversation’ event with the eminent scholar, diplomat, author, poet, playwright, and polymath, Professor Akbar Ahmed.

Following a distinguished career in academia and public service, Akbar has devoted himself to the healing of the many harmful divisions between peoples and communities of different religions throughout the world, as these continue to pose serious threats to world peace.

Led by our current President, Ian Cameron, the conversation will be both an examination and a celebration of Professor Ahmed’s highly commendable multi-faceted life’s work.

In a world currently dominated by populist leaders and outright dictators, are Professor Ahmed’s noble efforts in driving towards such a change likely to succeed?

The panel will also be joined by special guest Professor Karin Vogt – an author and academic-teacher trainer at Heidelberg University, Germany. Professor Vogt is very interested in promoting diversity and intercultural understanding and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to hear her contribution to the discussion.