In her new book Brit(ish), Afua Hirsch describes how it feels to see the conclusions other people make about her identity on the basis of choices she didn’t make. At school, she was the only ‘black’ child. When she moved to Ghana (Hirsch’s mother’s country of origin), people saw her as ‘white’. As a person whose mixed race means she’s never able to feel ‘at home’ anywhere, Hirsch can see more clearly than most that identity is a complex and shapeshifting thing. Hirsch’s series of interviews with writers and creative people explores to what extent we are free to define and express our own identity, and to what extent our identity is forced upon us by the world around us.
Rose McGowan with Afua Hirsch
A BRAVE WOMAN
Monday 13 August 15:15 - 16:15
In 2018 the film industry, for so long a haven of misogyny and sexism, has found itself at the heart of a worldwide ‘cataclysmic global reckoning’, in which women everywhere are standing up defiantly against predatory male behaviour. In Brave, the American actress Rose McGowan recounts her fight against the Hollywood machine. Today she talks to Afua Hirsch about her campaign to help all women reclaim their lives.
Diana Evans & T Geronimo Johnson with Afua Hirsch
RETHINKING THE RULES
Monday 13 August 17:30 - 18:30
On both sides of the Atlantic, a new generation of novelists is reshaping the conversation around identity. Diana Evans’s Ordinary People is about everyday midlife crises in London families, set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s election. T Geronimo Johnson’s dark, provocative Welcome to Braggsville sees four Berkeley students protesting at a Civil War re-enactment. Afua Hirsch talks to both novelists about their work.
Prayaag Akbar & Karen Lord with Afua Hirsch
SPECTACULAR NEW FUTURES
Tuesday 14 August 14:15 - 15:15
Imagining the future is no longer the given right of the ‘pale, male and stale’. Literature and film are bringing a much needed multiplicity of voices into the mainstream. Today, Afua Hirsch examines the societies created in speculative writing with Barbadian Karen Lord whose books, such as The Best of All Possible Worlds, have been described as ‘social science fiction’ and Prayaag Akbar whose novel Leila has been optioned as a Netflix Original. Set in the near future, it pushes the issue of caste to a chilling logical conclusion.
Tuesday 14 August 17:30 - 18:30
If humans are made up of a bundle of connected identities, how many of them do we actually choose? In Brit(ish), Afua Hirsch argues that although some of our identities, such as race and gender, may be given at birth, we can nevertheless insist on having the freedom to define ourselves in many ways. In today’s event, Hirsch discusses how we shape and express our identity with Chitra Ramaswamy.
Miranda Kaufmann with Afua Hirsch
AFRICANS IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND
Wednesday 15 August 16:00 - 17:00
It’s a common misconception that black migration to Britain began with the Windrush in 1948. But as Miranda Kaufmann demonstrates in Black Tudors, many black Africans were warmly accepted into 16th century English society. What’s perhaps most striking is they were free – living in a Britain not yet involved in slave trading. Kaufmann talks to Afua Hirsch and discusses the implications for our understanding of British history.
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