X Close

Events

Home

UCL events news and reviews

Menu

Archive for the 'Alumni' Category

Race: confronting myths and deconstructing colonial concepts

ucyow3c16 June 2014

By Foluso Williams

The August 2011 London riots “were not about race: the perpetrators and the victims were white, black and Asian”. It would seem from Mr Cameron’s comment that Britain is made up of three distinct ‘races’: ‘white’, ‘black’ and ‘Asian’.

However, many would argue that two of the ‘races’ that he has identified represent colours and the other denotes the population of a particular continent. Is Mr Cameron right? Surely, he has painted the best picture of 21st century Britain?

image 2

Not according to some academics, who believe that he is just as perplexed with the notion of ‘race’ as the rest of Britain.

This year at UCL, a remarkable array of scholars from various academic disciplines across the globe convened to discuss and challenge many of the misconceptions and complexities associated with the notion of ‘race’.

All speakers, which included staff and students, deconstructed the outdated myths that have lingered throughout different historical contexts and illustrated just how these constructions have become widely accepted in our society.

Two events, the Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies (Figs) Friday Forum on ‘Race’ and Critical Philosophy of Race: Here and Now, revealed through revolutionary research how we can begin to understand and challenge the notion of ‘race’, which is essentially a “colonial construct” that has been imposed on us by misinformed thinkers.

(more…)

Any UCL questions? Yes, lots!

ucyprlc10 June 2014

AQ1

The event panel

I’m pretty new to UCL (two weeks in to be exact) so when I saw an event was being run on UCL 2034 – the new strategy to move the university forward over the next 20 years – I jumped at the opportunity to go.

I wanted to find out what questions the UCL community has about the strategy, which issues they think should be addressed and any thoughts that they have about how best to do so. Intrigued by what I might hear, I attended ‘Any UCL Questions?’ on June 5 and you’ll be pleased to discover that it didn’t disappoint.

Jonathan Dimbleby, chair of the event and UCL alumnus, reflected on his time studying here in the late ‘60s, back when there were only 4,500 students (can you imagine?!). He said that there have certainly been many changes, aside from increasing student numbers, since then, including more diversity and engagement with different communities, but added that there is still some way to go. This neatly opened the topic for discussion – what is UCL’s long-term interest? Where should we as a university go, and importantly not go, next?

Each of the panel, comprising Professor Michael Arthur (UCL President & Provost), Professor Dame Hazel Genn (Dean of UCL Laws), Professor Mark Miodownik (UCL Mechanical Engineering) and Vimbai Dzimwasha (UCL student), spent a tightly regulated two minutes describing what UCL means to them and those aspects of the strategy that they’ve identified as important.

(more…)

Music revolution! Mozart. Rossini. Whatever next?

uclzean10 June 2014

After learning about the unity that could be achieved at the opera at my last UCL Festival of the Arts event, I was keen to actually experience an aria or two and learn more about the art form that had so compelled Nietzsche.

I was in luck. Will Bowers (UCL English), dressed in two-tone brogues and a pin-stripe suit, like a 1920s mobster who happened to specialise in the opera culture of the romantic period, led the event. Excerpts were sung by Carl Gombrich (bass, Programme Director UCL Arts and Sciences) and Emily Tsui (soprano, second year undergraduate, UCL Arts and Sciences) and Bryan Solomon (UCL Information Services Division) played piano.

Mozart

Mozart

Bowers spoke with elegance and insight about all things 1780s-1820s opera culture. Opera was often performed with “no narrative. It was all about the virtuosity of the performer”. The audience would drink and gamble. The performers would riff and improvise melody and rehearsals were non-existent. Opera existed in a realm of miscellany and elitist debauchery.

It wasn’t until 1789 that the British opera began to shed the shaggy raiments of its past. The Haymarket theatre burnt to the ground and with Britain’s chief opera centre in cinders there was an opportunity for a rethink. The information explosion of the following decade helped in democratising debate and  in siphoning opera into mainstream culture. The opera was a “complicated machine” and Britain was on the verge of a cultural renaissance.

(more…)

Auschwitz revisited?

ucyow3c5 June 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Phil Leask, Honorary Research Associate in UCL SELCS (UCL German)

The Auschwitz story – murder on a vast scale, planned, programmed, administered and executed by the Nazis in accordance with an ideology – is too terrible, requiring only homage, beyond the bounds of revisiting, reinterpreting and coolly analysing.

auschwitz awkward

Auschwitz

Or is it?

That was the central question in the UCL Festival of the Arts event Awkward approaches to Auschwitz on 29 June. Three years into their major project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Reverberations of War group from the School of European Languages, Culture and Society revisited Auschwitz. Literally.

They went there and looked, took photos, checked distances, traced the patterns of movement of those doing the killing and those taken to be killed, roamed around the vast complex beyond where the tourists go, located factories and factory sites where slave labour had been used and people had been worked to death, and tried to see it both as it had been and in its present-day context.

Then came the awkward questions …

(more…)