The article below was written by Malcolm Lucard and is cross-posted from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. It includes material from an interview with Prof Andrew Thompson, Leadership Fellow of Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past.
History in the making
Photo from https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/icrc-archives/
Internal records from the ICRC’s archives concerning the conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s shed light on a decisive era for humanitarian action.
In a small room in the basement of ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, historian Andrew Thompson methodically pores through folders full of documents — typewritten mission reports, confidential telegrams and hand-written letters — never before seen by people outside the ICRC.
“It is a process of discovery,” says Thompson, a professor of history at Exeter University in the United Kingdom. “There is a sense of expectation and anticipation not knowing what is going to be there. For a historian, it’s a bit like opening a birthday present, or like going into a candy shop.”
The ‘candy shop’ in this case is the ICRC archives, where Thompson is exploring 40- to 50-year-old records to be released to the public in January 2015 under the ICRC’s policy of making internal documents public in blocks of ten years once 40 years have passed since the events they describe.
Photo from Flickr. Click photo to see more from the British High Commission Islamabad (all rights reserved).
Dr Irfan Malik recently shared this WWI commemoration story with us, highlighting 460 British Indian WW1 soldiers from a small village called Dulmial. It was a record contribution for South Asia and on 10 November the British High Commission, Islamabad Pakistan honoured the village and unveiled a plaque in honour of three soldiers from modern day Pakistan who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
The ceremony formed part of the UK Government’s programme of events to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War, during which 175 men from 11 countries were awarded the Victoria Cross.
1816 Carron Ironworks cannon, presented to Dulmial Village in 1925 by the British Army
For more information please see the press release and Flickr photos: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/first-world-war-commemorative-plaque-unveiled-in-Islamabad
Joe Smith (PI), Kim Hammond, and George Revill, The Open University
from left to right: Zdenek Zdrahal (Knowledge Media Institute), Kim Hammond, Joe Smith and George Revill (Geography Department), all at The Open University, Milton Keynes
If you can tell a good story you can change the world. That thought has motivated programme makers concerned with environment and conservation issues for decades. The Earth in Vision project aims to tell the story of the role of broadcasting, specifically of the BBC, in the emergence of a global environmental imagination. A second aim is to explore the potential for, and implications of, large scale release of digital broadcast archives. Continue reading
Professor Frank Trentmann, Birkbeck College,
PI, Material Cultures of Energy: Transitions, Disruption, and Everyday Life in the 20th century. The research group consists of Frank Trentmann, Hiroki Shin, Vanessa Taylor, Heather Chappells and Rebecca Wright.
What happens when the lights go out? During a blackout it’s not only light that you lose. Electric cookers, heaters, TV and the radio stop working, and your computers, wifi and mobile phones will probably be off-line. A major part of our life today depends on the constant supply of energy. Cars might still run but traffic lights might not, nor would lifts, ticket machines, ATMs and the tube. Continue reading
Dr Philippa Ryan, Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, The British Museum, Principal Investigator
Philippa sampling a 3,100 year old hearth in a large villa.
Professor Katherine Homewood, Department of Anthropology, UCL, Co-Investigator
Nubian agricultural practices are rapidly changing due to infrastructure development, technological and environmental changes. Our project explores how comparisons of present-day and ancient crop choices can inform on risk management within agricultural strategies of small-scale riparian Nile village settlements. Research is focused on present-day Ernetta island (620km north of Khartoum) and nearby 2nd millennium BC Amara West, which was also located on an island during its occupation. Today, as in the past, islands are important due to their agricultural potential. Continue reading
The University of Sheffield’s Researching Community Heritage project was funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme to support community groups and organisations to develop research projects exploring their local heritage. Academics were matched with community researchers and encouraged to work together to develop co-produced projects. Groups applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for financial support to develop the project, meaning that they retained autonomy and ownership of the projects and were not reliant on the university for funding. Projects included: working with a homeless charity for young people to research the history of the hostel they are based in; exploring links between the Peak District, India and Hindu culture through research into the cotton trade with Sheffield Hindu Samaj; and a project with Rotherham Youth Service working with Primary School children to find out more about the history of their area through creative approaches to history and archaeology. Continue reading
Professor Michael Northcott, University of Edinburgh
PI of Caring for the Future through Ancestral Time, funded under AHRC Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past
The global spread of a consumer culture, through electronic forms of communication, multinational trade networks, and airplane and shipping containers, creates a culture of instantaneity which changes human perceptions of time. At the same time rituals which used to marked the passage of the years, and linked time’s passing to daily life, are declining. Many of these rituals were associated with the planting, tending and harvesting of crops as determined by the seasons. The culture of instantaneity reflects a growing disconnect between culture and nature, and between consumption and production. Continue reading
Professor Peter Coates, School of Humanities, University of Bristol
PI of The Power and the Water, funded under AHRC Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past
Peter at project partner Northumbrian Water’s Howdon Sewage Plant, Newcastle, on an unseasonably chilly day – even for the northeast – in June (photo: Jill Payne)
One of the places ‘The Power and the Water’ team visited during our gathering on Tyneside in June 2014 was the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, on the river’s Gateshead (south) bank. The exhibit that caught my attention was ‘Near Here’ by Nina Canell, who, a guidebook explains, is ‘fascinated by forces that affect us every day but that we can’t see with our eyes – things like electricity and air. If we can’t see them, how do we know they exist?’ Canell takes materials like cables, steel and water to create sculpture that, according to the Baltic’s press release, gives ‘substance to the intangible’. This strategy renders the invisible visible and brings the seemingly distant closer to us (near here?). The installation ‘Forgetfulness (Dense)’ consisted of a water-filled tank (raised on a frame like a display case) that contained a suspended length of underwater telecommunications cable which bore an uncanny resemblance to an oversized, particularly colourful liquorice all-sort. The combination of power and water appealed to me, as did the severed nature of the cable: a power supply cut off at both ends, disconnected from its source and destination. Continue reading
Georgina on top of Great Dun Fell in a howling snow storm
Professor Georgina Endfield, University of Nottingham
PI of Weather Extremes, funded under AHRC Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past
In 1952, climatologist Gordon Manley suggested that “if a census were taken of common topics of conversation amongst British people, it is very probable that the weather would take first place” (Manley, 1952:13). This statement is probably as true today as it was over sixty years ago, and while in no way being unique in this, it is fair to say that the British have a something of an obsession with the weather.
Yet the weather has arguably become an even more popular topic of conversation in recent years. In part, this is a function of narratives highlighting the apparently looming, apocalyptic climate changes that global society faces, but it may also be a result of rising concern over the impacts of anomalous, ‘extreme’ weather events such as droughts, floods, storm events and unusually high or low temperatures. While social and economic systems have generally evolved to accommodate some deviations from “normal” weather conditions, this is rarely true of extremes. Continue reading
In this video artistic director Paula McFetridge introduces Kabosh theatre company and talks about how the Creative Industries Innovation Fund helped to create an app for the dramatic walking tour Belfast Bred.
Care for the Future Interview: Andrew Thompson explores with Paula McFetridge, Artistic Director of Northern Ireland’s Kabosh theatre company, the power of theatre to humanise the past and to hold up a different lens to what we think we know.
Andrew Thompson: You are the artistic director of a theatre company in Northern Ireland called Kabosh which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Can you tell me more about Kabosh’s aims, the type of work you commission, and where you perform? Continue reading