Are We Really Dying Well?

Reach 09: Are We Really Dying Well? A bheil sinn ga-rìreabh a’ bàsachadh gu math?‌ That may sound like a strange question, but death is nonetheless  an important part of all of our lives which we don’t like to talk  about. Perhaps we don’t even know how. Ben Colburn, a Senior  Lecturer in Philosophy at […]

The Radical Film Network Festival and Unconference

Reach 09: The Radical Film Network Festival and Unconference Fèis Lìonra Fhilmichean Radaigeach agus Co-labhairt Fhuasgailte The Radical Film Network (RFN) Festival and Unconference were held at Glasgow University and in venues across the city from the 29th April – 2nd May 2016. Glasgow seemed like the perfect host for a radical film event. It […]

ReX 6: Applied Enlightenment

Murray Pittock, Bradley Professor of English Literature
Murray Pittock, Bradley Professor of English Literature and Pro-Vice Principal of Special Projects at the University of Glasgow.

Re: Enlightenment is an international research network founded in 2009-10 by New York University in association with New York Public Library. It holds its regular meetings (called Exchanges) annually, and the meeting in Glasgow is its sixth, following previous meetings in New York, London, California, Virginia and Oslo. It is still run from New York University with a steering committee based at the universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Oslo, California at Santa Barbara, London and the British Museum. Read more about ReX 6: Applied Enlightenment

Photography © Rachel Walisko

Reach 08: Africa in Motion

Africa in Motion | Afraga a’ Gluasad

Dr Lizelle Bisschoff was a South African postgraduate when she came to Scotland to study African Cinema. It wasn’t until her research began that she realised just how difficult it would be to source African-made films. When she contacted the then UK Film Council asking for some statistics on distribution of African cinema she discovered that a regrettable nine African films had been on general release in this country between 1995 and 2005. Bisschoff had to make do with the few VHS tapes and DVDs she could purchase, at extortionate prices, otherwise her only other option was to travel to Parisian archives to see African voices and stories, produced and directed by Africans, on the silverscreen. Read more about Reach 08: Africa in Motion

Reach 08: Build n Burn

Build n Burn | Tog is Loisg

Dr Kenny Brophy’s perspective on his own place within the field of archaeology admittedly perplexes some of his colleagues. Brophy’s research is largely concerned with prehistoric monuments from the British Neolithic period, and yet rather than referring to himself as a ‘prehistorian,’ he considers himself a ‘contemporary archaeologist’ with an interest in the traces of prehistory and how it is used in the modern world. He is particularly interested in how the prehistoric past can have an impact on peoples’ lives today.

That’s why Brophy began a collaborative project with Dr Gavin McGregor at Northlight Heritage, and a Corinna Goeckeritz a National Trust forest ranger at Brodick Castle on Arran to organise a prehistoric festival. The festival took place on Arran in the summer of 2013, and it involved designing and building a huge Neolithic style timber circle. The circle was built specifically using Forestry Commission timber, and it took the team a full week to construct the monument. Then they burnt it down. Now, whilst this may sound extreme, the burning of the monument was not just a spectacle for festival-goers, the burning mirrored prehistoric rituals and so the burning was accompanied by a talk from Brophy on the meaning and purpose of these monuments in prehistory. Read more about Reach 08: Build n Burn

The Big Questions: Philosophically engaging with illness, disability and identity

Na Ceistean Mòra: Feallsanachd a’ sgrùdadh Tinneas Ciorramachd agus Fèin-Aithne‌

Philosophers are not sitting in dusty old offices writing books in dense, archaic language for a specialized academic audience, although ‘philosophers can be their own worst enemies’ in that respect, insists Professor Michael Brady. As a professor of philosophy particularly interested in the philosophy of emotions, morality and human suffering, Brady sees philosophers as having a crucial role in getting to the heart of some the biggest issues and questions regarding what makes us human and the formation of our very identities. Yet all too often, he admits, philosophers probing these big questions about our identity don’t ask ordinary people what they mean by identity.

That is one of the reasons Brady has endeavoured to apply his philosophical expertise in a way which engages with the wider community, and not just academic circles. His current research is focused on suffering, as part of a three year Templeton-funded project, based at Glasgow, and working with co-PI Dr. David Bain. Brady’s work on this, and his earlier work on emotion, has led him to become a philosophical adviser for a number of theatrical productions by Quarantine, an independent theatre company based in Manchester. Brady has since been approached by the director of SICK! Festival and was asked to form an advisory group to discuss the relationship between illness, suffering and identity. Launched in 2013, SICK! Festival is an event ‘dedicated to exploring the medical, mental and social challenges of life and death and how we survive them (or don’t).’  The festival organisers attest to their own philosophy of talking about the bad times in an ‘unflinching, informed, irreverent and humane’ way, through partnerships with arts organisations, charities, community groups, medical and academic institutions. Read more about The Big Questions: Philosophically engaging with illness, disability and identity

Reach 08: Situating barkcloth production in time and place

A’ Suidheachadh Dèanamh Clò-Rùisg a’ Chuain Shèimh ann an Tìm is Àite

Barkcloth
Misa Tamura (centre) Research Conservator, displaying barkcloth at a Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Arts History open dat, 18th March 2016. Photo by Sarah Foskett.

Barkcloth has been used to make clothing, furnishings, garments and ritual masks in the tropical islands of the Pacific, such as Samoa, the Cook Islands and Hawaii for around 5000 years. It was made by beating the raw tree bark until it became a soft, tactile, non-woven textile. Although Western styles and fashions are now more common in the Pacific, the material is still used across the region as an expression of cultural identity. Yet very little is known about the material itself, and about how best to display, store and preserve barkcloth collections.

Frances Lennard, a Senior Lecturer in Textile Conservation, is leading a new AHRC funded project to study bark cloth as an art form. Lennard’s team includes Misa Tamura, a specialist in the conservation of ethnographic collections, material scientist Dr Margaret Smith who is studying the material properties of the cloth, and art historian Dr Andrew Mills who will be placing the artefacts in their historical context. The broader aim of the project is to ‘find out whether materials, techniques and designs originated from particular islands, how they were transmitted around the region and the effect of globalisation on this tradition.’ Cutting edge techniques will also be used to try and identify which plants were used to make the barkcloth, including protein and DNA analysis and isotope analysis. Read more about Reach 08: Situating barkcloth production in time and place

Reach 08: Religious Life

Religious Life: Beatha Chràbhaidh Stand at a bus stop in Glasgow and you’ll see a series of familiar images—a bird, a tree, a bell, and a fish, the four symbols of Glasgow’s patron saint, Saint Mungo. As in many aspects of British life, including many universities and schools, our present bears witness to our religious […]

Reach 08 – Runaway Slaves: Exploring Britain’s Multiracial Past

Tràillean a Theich: Rannsachadh Eachdraidh Ioma-Chinneach Bhreatainn In 1752 an enslaved teenager named Jamie was brought from Virginia to Beith in Ayrshire, where he was trained as a joiner. Then in 1756 Jamie’s master decided to send him back to Virginia and sell him, at which point the young man escaped to Edinburgh where he […]

Reach 08: Ownership of Scots Dialects

Wall or wa’ but not tall or ta’ – Ownership of Scots Dialects ‌Wall neo wa’ ach chan e tall neo ta’ – Seilbh air Dualchainntean Albais Our speech gives away many clues to our identity, such as: where you are from, how old you are, who you spend time with. All of these factors […]