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The Bristol Festival of Ideas aims to stimulate people’s minds and passions with an inspiring programme of discussion and debate throughout the year.

Waterstones in The Galleries is a regular Festival of Ideas venue and this spring hosts a number of events.

All events run from 7-8pm and tickets are priced at £8/£6.

Robin DiAngelo – Why Is It So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism?

Tuesday 19 February

Festival of Ideas

Anger. Fear. Guilt. Denial. Silence. Robin DiAngelo coined the term ‘white fragility’ in 2011 to describe the defensiveness that even the most well-meaning white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged. In conversation with Madhu Krishnan, she talks about how we can start having more honest conversations, listen to each other better and react to feedback with grace and humility. It is not enough to simply hold abstract progressive views and condemn the obvious racists on social media. Change starts with us all at a practical, granular level. It is time for all white people to take responsibility for relinquishing their role in persistent racial inequality.

To ensure we can include as many audience questions as possible on the day, Festival of Ideas are collecting them at time of booking.

Book HERE.

E. Foley & B. Coates – What Would Boudicca Do? Everyday Problems Solved By History’s Most Remarkable Women

Wednesday 6 March

Festival of Ideas

Elizabeth Foley and Beth Coates discuss the issues women face today, and what we can learn from history’s most remarkable women. From Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker, to Hypatia and Cleopatra, to Sappho and Dorothy Parker, to Rosalind Franklin and Empress Cixi, they talk about the achievements of women from the past and how they can help us conquer the messy modern world.

Book HERE.

James Meek – How Do We Leave the Old Britain Behind and Build a New Country?

Monday 11 March

Festival of Ideas

In March 2019, the UK will leave the EU, facing an unpredictable future. Since the referendum in 2016, the nation has been split by continuing debates over whether to leave or remain – and on what terms. Over the last few years, award-winning journalist James Meek has been searching for the stories and consequences of this rupture.

What can we recover from the debris of an old nation as we head towards new horizons? What must we leave behind? There aren’t any easy answers that will satisfy Brexiteers or Remainers. Instead, he paints a portrait of an anxious nation and offers a dissection of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the present moment.

His new book – Meek has been called ‘the George Orwell of our times’ – Dreams of Leaving and Remaining, is a report from the front line of the crisis we are living through.

This event is part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Book HERE.

Caroline Criado Perez – How Do We Deal with the Gender Data Gap?

Thursday 14 March

Festival of Ideas

Can you imagine a world where your mobile phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where if you have a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured than your partner? Award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, she reveals the biased data that excludes women and talks about the impact this has on their health and wellbeing.

Book HERE.

Viv Albertine – To Throw Away Unopened: One Woman’s Obsession with the Truth

Monday 18 March

Festival of Ideas

Viv Albertine offers a fearless dissection of one woman’s obsession with the truth – the truth about family, power and her identity as a rebel and an outsider. She explores human dysfunctionality, the impossibility of true intimacy and the damage wrought upon us by secrets and revelations, siblings and parents. She also examines how we can rebuild ourselves and come to face the world again, giving a portrait of the love stories that constitute a life, often bringing as much pain as joy.

Read book reviews and an interview on the Viv Albertine blog page.

Book HERE.

James Bloodworth -What is the Future for Work in Low-Wage Britain?

Tuesday 2 April

Festival of Ideas

We all define ourselves by our profession. But what if our job was demeaning, poorly paid and tedious? We live in a time when employment is high, but one of the key changes in the past decade is that many jobs are now precarious and in the gig economy – up to 10 million Britons (nearly a third of the UK workforce) do not have secure employment, according to the GMB union

Zero-hours contracts and the gig economy have redefined the relationship between companies and their workers: for many, careers are low-paid and high-risk, a series of short-term jobs with no security and little future. James Bloodworth spent six months living and working across Britain, taking on the country’s most gruelling jobs. He talks about the anxieties and hopes of the workers he encountered, and how traditional working-class communities have been decimated by the move to soulless service jobs. From the Orwellian reach of an Amazon warehouse to the time trials of a council care worker, he offers an analysis of a divided nation which needs to understand the true reality of how other people live and work before it can heal.

This event is part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Book HERE.

Rachel Reeves MP – What’s the Future of Women in Politics?

Thursday 25 April

Festival of Ideas

There are more women in parliament than ever. 208 women MPs were elected to the House of Commons in the General Election of 2017, a record high of 32 per cent of the total. There are 206 female peers, making up 26 per cent of Members of the House of Lords. At the same time, the process of Parliament remains antiquated: in one recent vote, an MP had to delay her caesarean-section birth to vote in a critical debate; another had the decades-old principle of pairing broken as she was on maternity leave. Female politicians continue to face attacks on social media, and in person, much more than male MPs.

100 years ago, Nancy Astor became the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons. Since then, women MPs from across the political spectrum have worked passionately for political change both to policy and to the culture of Westminster, yet their achievements have all too often been overlooked. Rachel Reeves, economist and Labour MP, has recovered much of this history. She talks about the future of women in politics based on her own pioneering work and her experience as an MP. She tells the stories of the sometimes forgotten MPs who made major change happen – from campaigns for equal suffrage to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the legalisation of abortion, equal pay, child benefit, maternity and paternity leave, and against sexual harassment.

This event is part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Book HERE.

Nick Cohen -Is Social Media Ruining Good Journalism and Politics?

Tuesday 30 April

Festival of Ideas

The last decade has seen the unrelenting rise of social media. Millions of people now get their first view of news and opinion from Facebook and Twitter. This has not just had an impact on newspaper sales; it has seen fundamental changes in news gathering and reporting. It has also seen the rise of fake news, debates about what truth means, alternative facts, and attacks on journalists, experts, elites and “the MSM”. What has it meant to be a journalist and commentator in the midst of this? What would a world of news look like if social media continues to grow and newspapers fail? What does this mean for civic and political life?

Nick Cohen is one of our leading commentators with a weekly column in the Observer and a regular writer for the Spectator and Standpoint. He looks at the future of journalism and political debate in this new age.

This event is part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Book HERE.

Kenan Malik – Who Has the Right to Speak?

Tuesday 21 May

Festival of Ideas

The government bans unacceptable speakers from entering the country. Courts jail ‘hate preachers’. Social media companies delete ‘offensive’ accounts. Companies sack workers for ‘inappropriate’ comments. Student unions no-platform feminist ‘transphobes’. Twitter mobs hound people off social media. Academics set up a journal to allow researchers, fearful for their jobs, to publish anonymously.

Is freedom of speech under threat in Britain? Are we living in particularly censorious times?  How does the debate about free speech relate to the growth of identity politics? What should be the limits to freedom of expression? Does the promotion of free speech undermine campaigns to limit bigotry and hatred? How can we encourage public debate about controversial issues when many find any discussion of such issues offensive? Author and commentator Kenan Malik explores the history of free speech, analyses the contemporary status of freedom of expression, and lays out what we need to do for the future.

This event is part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Book HERE.

Paul Collier – Does Capitalism Have a Future?

Wednesday 26 June

Festival of Ideas

Capitalism is in crisis and many question if it can survive. It’s faced problems before, but the crisis has intensified since the crash. Economic growth is sluggish and the benefits of capitalism are not shared widely. Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of Britain and other Western societies: thriving cities versus the provinces, the highly-skilled elite versus the less educated, wealthy versus developing countries. Economist Paul Collier believes we have lost the sense of ethical obligation to others that was crucial to the rise of post-war social democracy. So far these rifts have been answered only by the revivalist ideologies of populism and socialism, leading to the seismic upheavals of Trump, Brexit and the return of the far right in Germany.

Collier outlines ways to heal these economic, social and cultural rifts. Based on personal experience of having lived across these three divides – moving from working-class Sheffield to hyper-competitive Oxford, and working between Britain and Africa – he shows us how to save capitalism from itself – and free ourselves from the intellectual baggage of the 20th century.

This event is part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

Please note the date of this event has changed from Tuesday 14 May. If you purchased tickets for that date and can no longer attend, Bristol Festival of Ideas will issue a full refund.

Book HERE.

Further information

To find out more about Bristol Festival of Ideas, including the full programme, visit ideasfestival.co.uk

 

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