Following the success of last year’s Tedx event here in Oxford,the conference is back and braver than ever. Striving to give its audience the best exposure to a wide arena of revolutionary thinkers, TedxOxford are hosting people from all over the globe to share their experiences and worldviews for one day only — Sunday 18th January 2015.
Undoubtedly one of the most thrilling speakers will be the “honorary granddaughter” of the late Nelson Mandela, Ms Zelda la Grange. Having been lucky enough to speak to her over the last couple of months it has been clear how excited she is to share her experiences under the former South African President. As someone who was brought up during apartheid, Zelda was taught to hate and fear the man she would eventually spend the next formative years of her life with — learning and growing under his charge.
This evolving mindset from one political extreme to the other end of the spectrum is something very few have experienced, let alone are willing to articulate to a 1,800 strong audience. Her most recent publication — Good Morning, Mr Mandela — does what so many have wanted to be able to do and that is to catch a glimpse of Nelson Mandela in his many forms; the teacher, the leader, the dreamer, the healer, the disciplinarian and the elder. Articulated in her raw and honest commentary, Zelda does just that.
If you were to think of women in the Middle East at this moment, what images would you pull up? For the vast majority it would be some branch of oppression or cultural enforcement. Take, for example, the niqab. It is often seen as a restrictive barrier, limiting human interaction and communication. There is the belief that the rights of women are often compromised or non-existent and in Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, there is a strong patriarchy enforcing oppression. While there is of course merit to some of these views, perhaps we should consider the possibility of a woman pioneering her way through Iraqi journalism to be front and centre for current reporting on ISIS issues. Yet, this wouldn’t naturally spring to mind.
Indeed, this last profile depicts that of Sama Dizayee who is one of the most courageous and inspirational individuals I have ever come across. Growing up in Iraq and surviving three wars in her lifetime, she challenges the media stereotype. Her talk will attempt to unearth where these prejudices originate. By overcoming obstacles, Sama is living proof that there is an alternate outcome for women in Iraq. She challenges the perpetual vicious circle, the self-fulfilling outcome of constantly assuming that women in the Middle East won’t be able to achieve their ambitions and thus solidifying this glass ceiling. It will also be interesting to hear her point of view on the changing landscape for women journalists in the Middle East. Sama will question the roÌ‚le of reporters in Iraq today; this is especially topical given ISIS’ recent actions against journalists.
Finally, TedxOxford are delighted to welcome Simone Barillari, creator of the Global Hamlet Project, to speak on the inspiration behind this worldwide project to translate Shakespeare’s Hamlet into several languages. This unique project began in 2014 to mark 450 years from Shakespeare’s birth and will be completed in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of his death. Such an undertaking will obviously spark some points of discussion. With this collective translation, how will readers and potential students of the work discuss points on editorship? While Simone is at the helm of this project, it is very much an international collaboration that pulls on a variety of resources — from recordings in different languages, to translations and illustrations. What is most exciting is the fact that this is a new edition of a clas- sic text, composed in the most postmodern fashion possible. It embraces the technology age and encourages anyone to participate in the construction of this project, all under the watchful eye of chief editor Barillari.
This already poses issues of authority and interpretation. On the one hand, we have the masses stating their take on these classical works and on the other we have an editor sifting through and choosing what is to be published in this online manifesto. Some would argue that in this surplus there are too many interpretations that usurp the readers’ right to primary experience.
This debate is one of many that will arise from Simone’s talk and is a testament to the critical conversation around Shakespeare’s writing that still prevails today. The event promises an exciting and inspiring aray of speakers.