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    Archive for the 'Arts and Humanities' Category

    Greenlandic: Languages of the Arctic

    By Jo Harris, on 13 June 2017

    Pat Lok, biosciences student, UCL, explores the Language of the Arctic

    The largest island on earth yet inhabits one of the smallest group of Arctic language speakers – Greenland. Greenlandic is an Eskimo-Aleut language with neighbouring countries such as Siberia, Russia and Northern Canada speaking a language originated from the same language family. It is polysynthetic; where multiple words make up one complete word that could mean a sentence, this is due to Greenlandic being mostly an oral spoken rather than written only until recently. An example would be “Sukulaatitortarpugut” which means “we regularly eat chocolate” in Greenlandic. This is common in Germanic language where a long word is composed of small words altogether that means a sentence.

    Flag of Greenland - the colour red symbolises the Sun and the colour white symbolises ice and snow.

    Flag of Greenland – the colour red symbolises the Sun and the colour white symbolises ice and snow.

    Greenland has a complicated political identity; Greenland is an autonomous state but its citizens possess Danish passports yet Greenland is not part of the European Union. Greenlandic became the official language of Greenland recently in 2009 but secondary education is still mainly taught in Danish. A lot of street signs entail both Greenlandic and Danish translations which emphasise the frequency of use of both languages.

    Watch it back

    This session was delivered as part of the Festival of the Culture. You can watch it back on YouTube.

    Icy landscapes

    Greenland is well known for its icy landscape which its name suggests otherwise. Greenland obtained its name as part of an advertising campaign from more than 1000 years ago; Erik the Red who was a Norwegian Viking went on exile from Norway and then Iceland and eventually discovered Greenland. He called it ‘the green land’ in order to attract potential settlers to Greenland but Greenland isn’t exactly green, ice covers approximately 80% of the surface of Greenland and since ice is prevalent across the country, there are different words to describe different types of ice. Some examples are listed below:

    Greenlandic English
    Sea/ lake ice Siku
    Glacier/ steady ice Sermeq
    Iceberg Iluliaq
    Melted ice for fresh water Nilak

    Radically changing food habits with new undergraduate course

    By Guest Blogger, on 10 June 2017

    ­Written by Francis Lecomber, student on UCL BASc2096

    csfoodHow can we change our relationship to food? That’s been the central question for the new UCL Arts and Sciences BASc course “Citizen Science for Radical Change: Co-design, Art and Community” (BASC2096), which ran for the first-time last term. At a pop-up exhibition this week, selected students from the course showcased final projects exploring the factors that affect our decisions over what to eat.

    The course brought together multiple disciplines to explore food, based on an open source interdisciplinary method developed by our lecturer Kat Austen for her project Vital. Incorporating elements of chemistry, citizen science, community co-design and philosophy, the course encouraged students to think both analytically and creatively in their approach to learning, whilst embracing the overarching theme of food as a unifier of different peoples. The learning process itself is studied throughout the course, as we were encouraged to investigate the many different forms of knowledge and the hierarchical structure in which they exist – a structure that often places quantified data far above sensory perception in terms of value. This overarching theme continuously shaped and changed our approach to knowledge acquisition.

    Throughout the course, we worked with students from Newham’s NewVIc Sixth Form College, where we ran workshops and scientific experiments. At the end of the term, we co-designed exhibits and performances with the NewVIc pupils, which helped inform our personal designs for our final projects.

    In these final projects, the diverse threads of the course are woven into a major design piece. These designs were exhibited here, at the UCL Art Museum, on Monday 5th June as a part of the university’s theme of Transformative Technologies. In their diversity, they capture the multiple meanings food has to us, and the effect of engaging with it in an interdisciplinary way.


    The Forgotten Slave Owners: Tracing British history before the abolition of slavery

    By Natasha Downes, on 9 June 2017

    Written by Natasha Downes, Media Relations Manager, UCL

    Most British history has focused on the abolition of slavery, forgetting 200 years that preceded it where Britain played a lucrative role in the transatlantic slave trade.

    But a team of researchers at the UCL Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership (UCL project) have been working to uncover a history that Britain has been quick to forget; the story of slave owners.

    Curious to know more I attended the UCL Festival of Culture event entitled ‘Bloomsbury’s Forgotten Slave Owners’, to hear more about the UCL project and watch an excerpt of the BAFTA-winning documentary series, Britain’s Forgotten Slave-owners.

    Why focus on slave owners?

    Focusing on Britain’s slave owners may seem like an odd concept but as Dr Nick Draper (UCL History and Director of the project), points out it’s by “rethinking these aspects of British history that we can think about how wealth has been distributed economically, physically and socially.”

    Over almost 10 years the UCL project team have been unravelling the vast records of information kept on British slave owners at The National Archive, Kew, which they have curated into an accessible online database. Here, there are the names of 46,000 slave owners that were recorded after the abolition of slavery in 1838.

    Through the documentary we hear the uncomfortable story of how the abolition of slavery brought about the compensation of those 46,000 slave owners to the sum of £17 billion in today’s value, which Dr Draper highlights as “the biggest bailout since the banking bailout in 2009”.  Those that were enslaved were not rewarded compensation, and still to this day the contention over repatriations remains.


    Bringing Orwell to Life

    By Jo Harris, on 9 June 2017

    Written by Catrin Harris, UCL student blogger

    As part of UCL’s Festival of Culture, The Orwell Foundation staged a live start to finish reading of Orwell’s classic, 1984. Before the event, I caught up with the Foundation’s Director, Jean Sutton, as well as their Programmes Manager, Stephanie Le Lievre, to find out more.

    CH: Firstly, what is the Orwell Foundation?

    SL: The Orwell Foundation is a charity best known for awarding the Orwell Prize (the UK’s most prestigious prize for political writing). But we do much more than that: we use Orwell’s work to celebrate honest writing and reporting, uncover hidden lives, confront uncomfortable truths and, in doing so, promote Orwell’s values of integrity, decency and fidelity to truth. We do this through the Prizes, and also through free public events, lectures and debates such as our Orwell Lecture (given by Ian Hislop in 2016) and of course 1984 Live! We moved to UCL in 2016.

    1984 LIVECH: Where did the idea of a readthrough, and then immersive theatre, come from?

    SL: Live readings have been done before in the US and Australia, but never in the UK. When we found out about the Festival of Culture we thought it would be the perfect event to celebrate arriving at UCL. Once we had the idea, we realised that it had the potential to be more exciting than just a few people reading from a book in a room. We wanted it to have some kind of Artistic Direction, so we found Hannah Price, a brilliant theatre director who had real vision for what it could look like, and it snowballed from there.

    CH: Orwell wrote six novels, why do you think 1984, along with possibly Animal Farm, is the most well-known?

    JS: Animal Farm and 1984 are the best-known of Orwell’s novels because they are the best. They are barely novels – but fables, mythic. They are the product of his tremendous output of essays, commentaries, reviews, so the voice comes from non-fiction. But they also come straight from his experience of fighting fascism, seeing communism, being on the side of poor people, understanding that preserving the power of language to describe reality is almost the most important freedom.

    CH: This event marks the 68th anniversary of the publication of 1984. How do you think the book resonates with a contemporary audience?

    JS: 1984 works now because its themes are all around us: surveillance, the capacity to have a private life, meaningful and true feelings – not soap opera postured pouting, the capacity of ideology to create perceptions, the shaping of ideas by the control of technology, the sense that people may live in a manipulated world. These all have contemporary twists – people now commodify their own private lives and display their ‘private’ feelings for everyone – and perhaps in doing so lose touch with their sense of themselves as they pursue fashionable identities. But the alarming sense of the slip and slide of small rights and proprieties that may lead to tyranny is also palpably in the air.