Familiar Strangers: Being Human Festival, November 2016

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This day of creative exchanges at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery explored how in multicultural communities we translate and transact between languages when we express our experiences and emotions and listen to the stories others tell. Addressing the ‘Hope and Fear‘ theme of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, the idea of ‘Familiar Strangers’ reminded us of how we might feel uncertain, even fearful, about encounters with different people, languages, places and practices, but might also feel the excitement and the hope of making new connections and recognizing our own experience in that of others. 

In the morning, we heard performances and readings from a multilingual group of Birmingham-based writers: ‘Femi Abidogun, Kristina Gavran, Pascale Presumey, Shirin Ramzanali Fazel, Farideh Valigholizadeh and Ahmed Magare. Listen again below to some of the readings in full from the day:



An afternoon drop-in workshop invited the audience to bring the words they each associate with feelings of hope and fear. We saw different approaches to collaborative writing emerge as groups shared their words and ideas to produce together short pieces of writing. Watch clips from the morning performance and afternoon workshop in the video below (produced by Linde Luijnenburg):


Thanks so much to the Ikon Gallery, the writers and the participants who took part in this exciting and inspiring day of creative exchanges.

Organised by Dr Jenny Burns and Dr Naomi Wells, from the Transnationalizing Modern Languages project



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