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A rare discovery will shed new light on Mycenaean funerary practices

By amb206 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Sep 14, 2017.

For the first time, archaeologists have uncovered and carefully documented an intact burial in a monumental chamber tomb of the Mycenaean palatial period, around 3,350 years ago. Research into the material uncovered has only just begun but the discovery will expand our knowledge of Mycenaean funerals – from the treatment of the body to the selection of objects placed for burial.

The tomb is approached by an impressive rock-cut passageway, 20 m long, which leads to a deep façade some 5.40 m in height. A doorway gives access to the burial chamber. Its area of 42 sq m makes this the ninth largest known to date out of 4,000 examples excavated in the last 150 years in Greece. The partial collapse of the original chamber roof has helped to preserve the burial layer intact.

“Mycenaean chamber tombs are generally found by archaeologists to have been disturbed or looted. Most contain many burials, making an association between individual people and objects very difficult or impossible,” said Dr Yannis Galanakis of Cambridge’s Faculty of Classics, co-director of the five-year Prosilio project and an expert in Aegean archaeology.

“Finding an intact burial, let alone in a monumental tomb of the palatial period, 1370-1200 BC, makes our discovery all the more special for the knowledge we can now acquire about the tomb-using group and the practices they performed during and after the funeral.”

Once huge quantities of soil and rubble had been carefully excavated, the archaeologists found in the chamber the remains of a man, aged 40 to 50 years. He was accompanied by a selection of fine objects: jewellery made in a range of materials, combs, pins, a pair of horse bits, arrowheads, a bow, a sealstone, a signet ring, and a group of tinned clay vessels of various shapes.

“The size and quality of construction of the tomb correlates well with the discovered objects, all of which speak of a man from the upper echelons of the local society,” said Galanakis.

“Initial examination of the finds suggests a conscious selection by the tomb-using group responsible for the burial’s preparation of the objects interred with the body. The impression we get is that the tomb was built during the man’s life. It is indeed astonishing, and a very rare instance, to be able to excavate the remains of the man for whom the tomb must have been constructed.”

Galanakis was struck by the placement of different shapes and types of jewellery with a male burial, which challenges the commonly held assumption that jewellery in Mycenaean Greece should be chiefly associated with female burials. “It also chimes with the discovery of considerable quantities of jewellery by the University of Cincinnati in 2015 in the burial of the ‘griffin warrior’ at Pylos, which is older by a century than that of the man at Prosilio.”

Striking too is the absence of painted pottery, with the exception of two painted stirrup jars, often taken to contain aromatic oils and which may be associated with the final use and closure of the tomb around 1300 BC. Painted pottery is very common in Mycenaean tombs. Its absence from the initial burial is further confirmation of the conscious choices made in the selection of objects placed alongside this man’s burial at Prosilio.

The Prosilio team believes that this monumental structure, known as tomb 2, is associated with ancient Orchomenos, a major centre which controlled northern Boeotia, a region of Greece. Orchomenos, which is only 3.5 km away, oversaw in the 14th and 13th centuries BC the partial drainage of Lake Kopaïs – once the largest lake in Greece – a project that yielded a sizeable area of land for agriculture.

At its peak (1350-1250 BC), Orchomenos’s power is reflected in its most famous monument, the tholos tomb ‘of Minyas’, first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century and comparable only in size and refinement to the tholos tomb ‘of Atreus’ at Mycenae.

“Despite the tholos ‘of Minyas’ and some earlier important discoveries by Greek and German teams in the area, we still know very little about ancient Orchomenos. We hope that the continuation of our project will help us understand better Orchomenos’s position in the region and learn more about its population and their practices,” said Galanakis.

“The discovery this year enables us to ask questions such as why certain objects were selected for burial while others were not – and what kind of rituals were performed as part of funerary and post-funerary practices. The finds will spark new discussions about the role of burials in Mycenaean life during the palatial period.”

The five-year Prosilio project is in its first year. In subsequent years, the team aims to excavate more tombs and study and publish the archaeological data collected. The initiative is a collaboration between the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia and the British School at Athens. Its directors are Dr Alexandra Charami (Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia) and Dr Yannis Galanakis, (Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics and Director of the Museum of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge).

The Prosilio team also includes Kyriaki Kalliga, archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia, Dr Panagiotis Karkanas, geo-archaeologist and Director of the Wiener Laboratory at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Dr Ioanna Moutafi, bio-archaeologist and senior researcher at the Wiener Laboratory, Emily Wright, field supervisor and PhD candidate in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and Professor Ann Brysbaert of the University of Leiden and Principal Investigator of the ERC project SETinSTONE. Some 25 students, specialists and workers helped in this year’s fieldwork.

The Prosilio project was conducted with permission from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports and Ioannis Papadopoulos, the owner of the land. The project was generously funded by, among other sources, the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Classics, the McDonald Institute, the Cambridge Humanities Research Grant scheme, and Sidney Sussex College), the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP) and the British School at Athens.

Inset images: entrance to Prosilio tomb 2; horse bits found with the burial (Yannis Galanakis).

 

The discovery this summer of an impressive rock-cut tomb on a mountainside in Prosilio, near ancient Orchomenos in central Greece, will shed new light on Mycenaean funerary practices.

Finding an intact burial, let alone in a monumental tomb of the palatial period, 1370-1200 BC, makes our discovery all the more special.
Yannis Galanakis
Excavation of a Myceneaen tomb at Prosilio in central Greece, summer 2017

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Poet, activist, bird watcher: exploring John Clare as nature writer

By amb206 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Aug 29, 2017.

The poet John Clare (1793-1864) was a keen natural historian who knew the countryside in all its moods. His various jobs saw him labouring in farms and gardens; his gravestone remembers him as the ‘peasant poet’. Best known for his verse, Clare also wrote prose accounts of the plants and animals he observed in his native Northamptonshire.

In a foreword to the anthology, The Poetry of Birds, broadcaster and bird watcher Tim Dee notes that Clare wrote about 147 species of British wild birds “without any technical kit whatsoever”. His records contain 65 first descriptions of birds for Northamptonshire alone. The term ‘nature writing’ had yet to be coined in the early 1800s – but Clare was undoubtedly ahead of his time in the way that he wove his detailed observations of the natural world into his writing.

Dee is one of the speakers who will be talking about ‘Clare and the Art of Bird Watching’ at a symposium held on September 15, 2017 at the David Attenborough Building. The event is a collaboration between the Centre for John Clare Studies (English Faculty) and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), itself a partnership between Cambridge University and a cluster of conservation organisations.

CCI’s emerging programme on the arts, science and conservation is coordinated by Dr John Fanshawe, who has been seconded from Birdlife International. He explains: “Bringing together academics and practitioners is a core ambition of the community in the David Attenborough Building. John Clare, both as a poet and activist, is a perfect catalyst for exploring the close observation and in situ localism in which so much conservation is rooted.”

The symposium will bring together literary scholars with ornithologists, nature writers and artists to consider what it means to observe and record birds. How, for example, does Clare look and watch, and how does he translate what he observes into words? How do today’s artists and writers respond to his work?

“The idea is to raise questions about the act of bird watching, recording, understanding and classification, both in the early 19th century and the present day, dwelling in particular on the importance of localism and the distinctiveness of Clare’s environment and voice to his writing about birds,” says Dr Sarah Houghton-Walker from the Centre for John Clare Studies.

Academics speaking at the symposium include Dr Francesca MacKenney (Bristol), Dr Mina Gorji (Cambridge) and Dr Jos Smith (University of East Anglia). Participants will also hear from printmaker Carry Akroyd, textile artist Anita Bruce, and nature writers Alex Preston and Derek Niemann.

Clare’s work has long inspired artists whose work celebrates the natural world. Akroyd says: “John Clare is such a visual poet. He wrote outside, his eyes wide open to everything, and wrote inside with visual memory. He switches between a wide-angle bird’s eye-view of the landscape to hand-lens detail, and even now makes us see more.”

Birds soar through the lines of English poetry, but for Clare’s contemporaries they played an especially important symbolic role. “Shelley’s skylark is transcendentally a spirit. Keats’ nightingale is significant because it represents a sublime kind of not-knowing,” says Houghton-Walker.

Clare, however, insists on the real and the particular. He knows exactly how and where the birds he writes about nest; he knows how many eggs those birds lay; and he leaves behind a meticulous record of every detail, right down to the appearance of the markings on each egg.   

“He’s intensely interested in habitat, behaviour and song, but also, increasingly, in the threats to birds from his fellow men. He insists on a vital accuracy in his descriptions which continue to astonish scientific natural historians, and yet produces poetry about birds which can claim to be some of the very best in the language,” says Houghton-Walker.

“Clare’s greatest achievement is the conjunction of scientific accuracy with what he calls ‘poetic feeling’. He possesses a depth of knowledge only achievable by painstaking observation of birds’ behaviour as it changes with the seasons. He scorns those poets who don’t take the time to watch and merely recycle, often inaccurate, poetic conventions.

His patient observation is rewarded with an intimate knowledge which is exhibited throughout his prose and poetry. He’s especially fascinated by nests – something that has been discussed by many critics.”

A determination to represent nature accurately led to struggles, too.  Voicing his frustration at his inability adequately to transcribe the song of the nightingale, Clare wrote that “many of her notes are sounds that cannot be written the alphabet having no letters that can syllable the sounds”. 

MacKenney says: “Clare was extraordinarily inventive in his attempts to get the sounds of birds into his own writing. But the ‘peasant-poet’ was not naive. Throughout his poetry Clare demonstrates a profound respect for the abiding 'mystery' of birds and their songs.”

Without binoculars and with nothing but his senses to rely on, Clare gave us some of the most compelling nature writing of the 19th century.

To illustrate some of the wonders of birds and their behaviour, the symposium will include a screening of ‘Murmuration X 10’, a short film by filmmaker Sarah Wood and Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, and a guided tour of the avian collection at the Museum of Zoology.

For more details and to book a place at the symposium ‘Clare and the Art of Bird Watching’ click here.

Inset image: Carry Akroyd's ‘Evening Crows’ linocut illustration from 'This Happy Spirit’. 

At a symposium next month (15 September 2017) academics, artists and ornithologists will share their responses to the work of 19th-century poet John Clare, whose patient and accurate observations of birds in field and hedgerow continue to astonish and inspire.

Clare’s greatest achievement is the conjunction of scientific accuracy with what he calls ‘poetic feeling’. He possesses a depth of knowledge only achievable by painstaking observation of birds’ behaviour as it changes with the seasons.
Sarah Houghton-Walker
'Swifts' lithograph from Carry Akroyd's 'Found in the Fields' series (detail)

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Yes

Making Rome great again: fake views in the ancient world

By Svh27 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 27, 2017.

The elusive, glorious past has been a dominant theme of recent political slogans and soundbites. President Trump’s rallying call to “make America great again” was met with outpourings of support on his campaign trail and, in the wake of the EU referendum, British politicians have referred to our history as a great global nation, saying that Brexit offers the opportunity to retake our place as a great world power.

The tactic of alluding to an idealised point in the past, embodying all of a country’s best values, while glossing over times of hardship, is nothing new. In fact it’s as old as the hills, and at least as old as the seven hills of Ancient Rome.

The first imperial regime of Rome started in 27 BC after a long period of civil unrest and brutal bloodshed. After Octavian defeated his rivals for power, Antony and Cleopatra, he cleverly rebranded himself as Augustus and began what would become a monarchic regime. He disguised this new order as the continuation and restoration of the Roman Republic and recast the historical and cultural memory of Rome to suit his own needs of self-preservation and self-promotion.

Dr Elena Giusti, in the Faculty of Classics, is working on a book examining the part that the Aeneid, written by Roman poet Virgil, played in shaping the narrative of Emperor Augustus’ regime. Her book will contribute to a long-standing academic debate over the extent to which the poem is propagandistic.

“My interest in Augustan poetry and its tendency to reshape traditions and place facts in a position of secondary, subsidiary importance was inspired by my experiences as a millennial growing up in Berlusconi’s Italy,” says Giusti. “My research focuses on what, after the events of 2016, we might dub ‘post-truth poetics’ – and a reading of Virgil’s Aeneid as a form of poetics and politics that aimed to shape public opinion by appealing to feelings rather than facts.”

Virgil’s epic poem tells the story of Aeneas the Trojan hero and his struggle to found the Roman race. In Giusti’s view, Virgil was in all likelihood commissioned by Augustus to write the Aeneid, and there is certainly plenty to suggest that he wrote his epic work in compliance with the new regime.

Giusti’s research explores Virgil’s exploitation of one historical period in particular, the age of the Punic Wars from 264 BC to 146 BC. This long-running conflict was fought between the Roman Republic and Carthage, an ancient city located on the coast of modern Tunisia.

In alluding to the Wars, from which Rome emerged victorious, Virgil transports the reader back to a “mytho-historic” time of strength and glory in Rome’s past. The real threat from Carthage ended after the defeat of Hannibal in 201 BC, but Virgil uses Carthage to evoke metus hostilis or ‘fear of the enemy’. The poem aims to unite the Romans, shaken by the trauma of recent civil conflict, by reminding them of a time when the greatest threat was from a foreign power.

“Civil conflict had brought Rome to its knees, and the use of Carthage in the poem appears to suit the ideological needs of foregrounding foreign conflict while whitewashing the reality of the strife against fellow citizens on which the principate itself was built,” explains Giusti. 

In the Aeneid, Virgil presents Carthage through a thick layer of mythical and historical allusion, blending historical events and points in time to suit his political purpose. The blurred spatial and temporal narrative allows Virgil to mingle not only Ancient Greek mythology and the Punic Wars, but also the more recent historical events of the civil war, by making clear allusions to the history of Antony and Cleopatra in the relationship between Aeneas and Dido, Queen of Carthage.

Virgil conjured a series of associations between the Punic Wars and recent Roman civil disorder. The effect was to ascribe to the latter the qualities of foreign conflict and interference by an external enemy. This fictional history, where it was the destruction of Carthage that brought about the crisis of the Republic, served to legitimise Augustus’ involvement in the civil war and vindicate him of any wrong-doing. 

On the face of it, then, Virgil’s ‘post-truth poetics’ appear to overwhelmingly support the ambitions of Emperor Augustus to ‘make Rome great again’. However, Giusti also thinks that Virgil’s epic ultimately exposes the illusory nature of Augustan Rome and the suggestion that the new imperial order was founded in the wake of foreign rather than civil wars, which any learned reader in Rome at the time would have known to be ‘post-truth’.

Just as a modern-day political speechwriter charged with harking back to the past with romanticised stories of empire might be required to suppress their better judgement and awareness of historical fact, Virgil appears to have negotiated a vision of the Punic Wars that he himself realised was little more than a nostalgic mirage.  

Giusti argues that when Virgil starts to make Carthage look like Rome, and the Carthaginians like Romans, rather than the foreign enemy, memories of the recent civil wars are brought to the surface. Paradoxically, Virgil’s Carthage unveils the delusory nature of Augustus’ restoration of the Roman Republic and its mythical history. The artificiality of the image that Virgil conjures stimulates us to interrogate the legitimacy of the stories and messages encoded in the narrative.

Perhaps this indicates the author’s frustration at writing in support of the Augustan regime. “We know that Virgil, like most Romans, suffered personally during the civil wars and that his family’s property was confiscated, although subsequently restored. To me it is clear from the poem that his primary historical concern was actually the traumatic memory of the civil wars and the subsequent subversion of Rome’s Republican institutions,” adds Giusti.

Perhaps this image of an author conflicted in his work serves to explain why, according to legend, Virgil tried to have the Aeneid destroyed before he died. He was prevented from doing so by Augustus and his vision of “empire without end”.

A political leader who seeks to make his nation “great again” and a time when ‘post-truth’ rhetoric appears to support political ambitions. Not Trump’s America, but Rome 2,000 years ago.

Civil conflict had brought Rome to its knees, and the use of Carthage in the poem appears to suit the ideological needs of foregrounding foreign conflict while whitewashing the reality of the strife against fellow citizens on which the principate itself was built.
Elena Giusti

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Cambridge to launch Polish Studies programme

By ag236 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 14, 2017.

The signing will mark the grant of 15 million złotys (approximately £3.1 million),  allocated to the University of Warsaw by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, to endow in perpetuity a Polish Studies Programme at Cambridge.

The programme will provide opportunities for research collaboration, as well as teaching in Polish language, literature and culture.

The programme’s research output will be complemented by a series of high-profile public events that will aim to stimulate research in Polish culture and society, and promote greater understanding of Poland’s role in European history as well as its position as a rising economic power.
The new initiative will build on the success of the existing four-year pilot programme in Polish Studies at the University, led by Dr Stanley Bill of Cambridge’s Department of Slavonic Studies and supported by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP), the M.B. Grabowski Fund, the Zdanowich Fund and Cambridge’s School of Arts and Humanities.

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, signed the agreement with the Rector of the University of Warsaw, Professor Marcin Pałys.

Professor Martin Millett, Head of the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cambridge, said: “We are delighted to be strengthening this relationship with our colleagues in Poland, which is not only of strategic importance to the University of Cambridge, but of significant import at this time in the history of Europe.”

“The continuity of Polish Studies at the University of Cambridge is an opportunity for both parties to develop teaching and research cooperation,” said Assistant Professor Maciej Duszczyk, Vice Rector for Research at the University of Warsaw. He added: “An Advisory Board for the new Polish Studies programme at Cambridge –consisting of representatives from the University of Cambridge, the University of Warsaw, and the Foundation for Polish Science—will be tasked with setting the framework for our collaboration.”

The agreement was concluded with the support of Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education. 

In the autumn, representatives of both universities will meet in Warsaw to take part in an event to mark the enhanced collaboration.

Polish language, literature and culture will be a permanent feature of the University of Cambridge’s research and teaching following the signing, today, of an agreement with the University of Warsaw.

We are delighted to be strengthening this relationship with our colleagues in Poland, which is not only of strategic importance to the University of Cambridge, but of significant import at this time in the history of Europe.
Prof Martin Millett

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Polly Blakesley awarded Pushkin House Russian Book Prize 2017

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 11, 2017.

Green method developed for making artificial spider silk

By sc604 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 10, 2017.

A team of architects and chemists from the University of Cambridge has designed super-stretchy and strong fibres which are almost entirely composed of water, and could be used to make textiles, sensors and other materials. The fibres, which resemble miniature bungee cords as they can absorb large amounts of energy, are sustainable, non-toxic and can be made at room temperature.

This new method not only improves upon earlier methods of making synthetic spider silk, since it does not require high energy procedures or extensive use of harmful solvents, but it could substantially improve methods of making synthetic fibres of all kinds, since other types of synthetic fibres also rely on high-energy, toxic methods. The results are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Spider silk is one of nature’s strongest materials, and scientists have been attempting to mimic its properties for a range of applications, with varying degrees of success. “We have yet to fully recreate the elegance with which spiders spin silk,” said co-author Dr Darshil Shah from Cambridge’s Department of Architecture.

The fibres designed by the Cambridge team are “spun” from a soupy material called a hydrogel, which is 98% water. The remaining 2% of the hydrogel is made of silica and cellulose, both naturally available materials, held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular “handcuffs” known as cucurbiturils. The chemical interactions between the different components enable long fibres to be pulled from the gel.

The fibres are pulled from the hydrogel, forming long, extremely thin threads – a few millionths of a metre in diameter. After roughly 30 seconds, the water evaporates, leaving a fibre which is both strong and stretchy.

“Although our fibres are not as strong as the strongest spider silks, they can support stresses in the range of 100 to 150 megapascals, which is similar to other synthetic and natural silks,” said Shah. “However, our fibres are non-toxic and far less energy-intensive to make.”

The fibres are capable of self-assembly at room temperature, and are held together by supramolecular host-guest chemistry, which relies on forces other than covalent bonds, where atoms share electrons.

“When you look at these fibres, you can see a range of different forces holding them together at different scales,” said Yuchao Wu, a PhD student in Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, and the paper’s lead author. “It’s like a hierarchy that results in a complex combination of properties.”

The strength of the fibres exceeds that of other synthetic fibres, such as cellulose-based viscose and artificial silks, as well as natural fibres such as human or animal hair.

In addition to its strength, the fibres also show very high damping capacity, meaning that they can absorb large amounts of energy, similar to a bungee cord. There are very few synthetic fibres which have this capacity, but high damping is one of the special characteristics of spider silk. The researchers found that the damping capacity in some cases even exceeded that of natural silks.

“We think that this method of making fibres could be a sustainable alternative to current manufacturing methods,” said Shah. The researchers plan to explore the chemistry of the fibres further, including making yarns and braided fibres.

This research is the result of a collaboration between the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis in the Department of Chemistry, led by Professor Oren Scherman; and the Centre for Natural Material Innovation in the Department of Architecture, led by Dr Michael Ramage. The two groups have a mutual interest in natural and nature-inspired materials, processes and their applications across different scales and disciplines.

The research is supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Leverhulme Trust.

Reference
Yuchao Wu et al. ‘Bioinspired supramolecular fibers drawn from a multiphase self-assembled hydrogel.’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1705380114

Researchers have designed a super stretchy, strong and sustainable material that mimics the qualities of spider silk, and is ‘spun’ from a material that is 98% water. 

This method of making fibres could be a sustainable alternative to current manufacturing methods.
Darshil Shah
Spider web necklace with pearls of dew

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Science fiction vs science fact: World’s leading AI experts come to Cambridge

By sjr81 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 10, 2017.

The two-day conference (July 13-14) at Jesus College is the first major event held by the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) since its globally-publicised launch by Stephen Hawking and other AI luminaries in October 2016.

Bringing together policy makers and philosophers, as well as leading figures from science and technology, speakers include Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Matt Hancock (Minister for Digital and Culture), Baroness Onora O'Neill and Francesca Rossi (IBM).

Dr Stephen Cave, Executive Director of CFI, said: “Rarely has a technology arrived with such a rich history of myth, storytelling and hype as AI. The first day of our conference will ask how films, literature and the arts generally have shaped our expectations, fears and even the technology itself.

“Meanwhile, the second day will ask how and when we can trust the intelligent machines on which we increasingly depend – and whether those machines are changing how we trust each other."

Programme highlights of the conference include:

  • Sci-Fi Dreams: How visions of the future are shaping development of intelligent technology
  • Truth Through Fiction: How the arts and media help us explore the challenges and opportunities of AI
  • Metal people: How we perceive intelligent robots – and why
  • Trust, Security and the Law: Assuring safety in the age of artificial intelligence
  • Trust and Understanding: Uncertainty, complexity and the ‘black box’

Professor Huw Price, Academic Director of the Centre, and Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, said: “During two packed days in Cambridge we’ll be bringing together some of the world’s most important voices in the study and development of the technologies on which all our futures will depend.

“Intelligent machines offer huge benefits in many fields, but we will only realise these benefits if we know we can trust them – and maintain trust in each other and our institutions as AI transforms the world around us.”

Other conference speakers include Berkeley AI pioneer Professor Stuart Russell, academic and broadcaster Dr Sarah Dillon, and Sir David Spiegelhalter, Cambridge’s Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk. An AI-themed art exhibition is also being held to coincide with the Jesus College event.

CFI brings together four of the world’s foremost universities (Cambridge, Berkeley, Imperial College and Oxford) to explore the implications of AI for human civilisation. Researchers will work with policy-makers and industry to investigate topics such as the regulation of autonomous weaponry, and the implications of AI for democracy.

Many researchers take seriously the possibility that intelligence equal to our own will be created in computers within this century. Freed of biological constraints, such as limited memory and slow biochemical processing speeds, machines may eventually become more broadly intelligent than we are – with profound implications for us all.

Launching the £10m centre last year, Professor Hawking said: “Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of civilisation but it could also be the last – unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers like powerful autonomous weapons or new ways for the few to oppress the many.

“We cannot predict what might be achieved when our own minds are amplified by AI. The rise of powerful AI will either be the best or the worst thing to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which.”

Professor Maggie Boden, External Advisor to the Centre, whose pioneering work on AI has been translated into 20 languages, said: “The practical solutions of AI can help us to tackle important social problems and advance the science of mind and life in fundamental ways. But it has limitations which could present grave dangers. CFI aims to guide the development of AI in human-friendly ways.”

Dr Cave added: “We've chosen the topic of myths and trust for our first annual conference because they cut across so many of the challenges and opportunities raised by AI. As well as world-leading experts, we hope to bring together a wide range of perspectives to discuss these topics, including from industry, policy and the arts. The challenge of transitioning to a world shared with intelligent machines is one that we all face together.”

The first day of the conference is in partnership with the Royal Society, while the second is in partnership with Jesus College's Intellectual Forum. The conference is being generously sponsored by Accenture and PwC.

Further details and ticketing information can be found here.

 

Some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will gather in Cambridge this week to look at everything from the influence of science fiction on our dreams of the future, to ‘trust in the age of intelligent machines’.

Rarely has a technology arrived with such a rich history of myth, storytelling and hype as AI.
Dr Stephen Cave

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Tracking inequality in India: the story of a pioneer

By amb206 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 04, 2017.

The widening gap between India’s rich and poor is captured by the National Sample Survey (NSS), an organisation founded in 1950, which gathers data from roughly 14,000 Indian villages and localities to provide a snapshot of how the population at large is faring. The NSS and its pioneering role in the measurement of poverty and inequality are some of the important subjects addressed by a conference that starts tomorrow (5 July 2017) in Cambridge to explore how different modern societies have measured social and economic disparity.

Since Indian Independence in 1947, the NSS has conducted more than 70 rounds of surveys, providing much-needed data about household consumption, social inequality, educational attainment and healthcare outcomes. NSS data serves as a backbone to Indian economic planning, public welfare provision and academic research.

The story behind the NSS goes back to 1913, when a brilliant young man called Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis arrived at King’s College, Cambridge, to study mathematics.

It is said that Mahalanobis had intended to become a student in London but applied to King’s after visiting its world-famous chapel and missing the last train back to the capital. He graduated with a BA in natural science, receiving top marks in his physics final exam.

During his time at Cambridge, he interacted with another outstanding Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan. Influenced by the British journal Biometrika, Mahalanobis began experimenting with new statistical methods for studying and measuring large-scale phenomena – occurrences so widespread and diverse by nature that they are difficult to gauge.

A man of diverse scientific interests, Mahalanobis combined statistics with other emerging disciplines, including anthropology, physics and economics, to develop novel approaches for estimating population distribution, crop yields and household consumption.

Mahalanobis is known for his pioneering work in descriptive statistics – and his name is remembered by the ‘Mahalanobis distance’, a measurement used in studies of population. For many years he taught at Presidency College (Kolkata) where, in 1931, he was responsible for founding the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).

Today the ISI employs a staff of more than 1,000 people and is a leading international centre for research in applied mathematics, data science and computing.

With funding from the Philomathia Foundation, Dr Poornima Paidipaty (Faculty of History) has embarked on a study focusing on Mahalanobis’s most important contribution at the ISI: his visionary work on the development of large-scale surveys of India’s rural population in response to the country’s drive to realign itself as an industrial force with global reach.

Her research is part of a much larger project on ‘Historicising the Measurement of Inequality’, which is directed by Dr Pedro Ramos-Pinto and examines global histories of quantifying and framing socio-economic disparity.

Starting in the late 1930s, the ISI undertook a series of pioneering pilot surveys to gauge Indian household incomes at a time of huge social and historical upheaval. Sampling offered Indian scientists new tools for generating data on phenomena that had never been comprehensively or accurately measured before. In its early years as a research and training centre, the ISI used sampling to study everything from changing patterns in tea consumption to estimating crop acreage.

This research became more urgent after Independence, when government planners needed more reliable economic data to frame programmes aimed at rapid industrialisation, poverty alleviation and development. Lacking a strong household income tax regime, Indian bureaucrats lacked the fine-grained statistical information used by economists in developed countries to accurately estimate GDP.

Mahalanobis and his colleagues at the ISI offered a unique solution to these problems and designed a pioneering large scale sampling exercise to estimate the size, composition and condition of the Indian economy. As an approach to measurement, it was an original (and at the time, highly risky) endeavour. Many doubted that random sampling could accurately represent the totality of Indian social and economic life.

In 1950, Mahalanobis launched the National Sample Survey (NSS) to undertake the ambitious task of providing a comprehensive picture of India’s domestic economy. In first rounds of research, 1833 villages and residential areas were surveyed. This limited sample was used to represent the nation as a whole, which totalled roughly 360 million people at the time.

During this early period, critics complained that urban areas were over-represented and that surveyors were unfamiliar with the struggles and transformations facing remote regions and rural villages. It took many years for Mahalanobis and colleagues to design a survey that would capture, with an acceptable level of accuracy, the data that the government sought.

Due in part to his widespread academic interests, and his interactions with intellectuals from fields other than mathematics, Mahalanobis’s work incorporated cutting edge research in the social and computational sciences of the postwar era. He collaborated with top economists and mathematicians from around the world, and brought leading scientists to Kolkata for extended periods of time.

Ronald Fisher, JBS Haldane, Norbert Wiener, Andrey Kolmogorov, Jerzy Neyman, Joan Robinson and Simon Kuznets were among the many researchers sponsored by the ISI to collaborate on the Institute’s teaching and ongoing survey efforts in the 1950s and 1960s.

During its first decade, NSS researchers had to address numerous and complicated issues. What size and distribution of survey sites would best represent the nation in its entirety? How should surveyors account for India’s significant informal sector and for labour that was paid in kind, rather than cash?

Measuring national productivity required that researchers account for all productive labour – not just monetised transactions. Similarly, how should surveyors include women’s labour? Survey teams had to build rapport with their subjects, and in many cases, even teach them how to estimate monthly consumption and expenditure. The accuracy of data relied on social ties and mutual education – not just rote completion of questionnaires.

Over time, the NSS not only became a valued and relied upon institution, it influenced researchers and policymakers around the globe. Chinese officials sent their statisticians to Kolkata to learn from Mahalanobis’s staff in the 1950s, and the ISI served as a model for the American statistician Gertrude Cox, for the organisation of statistical training in the USA.

With her background in science studies and South Asian history, Paidipaty is well-equipped to understand the technical as well as the social relationships that allowed Indian planners and scientists to define and steer the national economy. Her research draws on the extensive archives of the ISI, which offer unique insights as to how Indian household life was measured in the early decades after Independence and Partition, and how policymakers framed and understand shifting standards of living.

Paidipaty’s work demonstrates that sampling, as a technique of economic measurement, was intimately tied to mid-century economic planning. Under Nehru’s leadership, the Indian state focused its developmental efforts on rapid industrialisation and growth, but achieving these objectives required new tools for defining and measuring the national economy. What were the different, discreet parts of an economy and how did they relate to one another?

Pinning down such abstractions, and offering concrete, tangible data, was indispensible to the work of managing India’s planned economy. The early history of sampling roughly overlapped with early experiments in economic planning. Mahalanobis was a member of India’s Planning Commission from 1953 until 1967, and directed the nation’s Second Five Year Plan.

In 2014, India’s government dissolved the Planning Commission, arguing that pro-growth policies ought to be achieved through unfettered markets rather than planned policy interventions. Yet, even without a formal planning apparatus, the significance of large-scale sampling has only grown over the last 70 years.

Since the 1980s, economists around the world, including those at the World Bank and the IMF, have embraced and underscored the importance household sampling. Not only do they provide large-scale aggregative statistics, they are a crucial source of fine-grained and qualitatively rich data.

The NSS has been an on-going subject of debate amongst economists, but is also a crucial source of information. Angus Deaton, the recipient of the 2015 Nobel prize in economics, in some of his most influential work used NSS data to help the Indian government recalibrate how it defined and measured poverty. Within the current Indian context, in which economic growth and rising inequality are once again at the centre of public debate, it has become all the more important to understand the history of data, how it is produced and what numbers really represent.

As a nation, India is undergoing profound transformation, but rapid growth has come hand in hand with rising inequality as well as growing disparity between rural and urban areas. NSS data remains one of the best resources for understanding and tracking these changes. As more of this information circulates in the public domain, it becomes all the more crucial to appreciate how such data is produced. Paidipaty’s work on the history of the NSS offers a fascinating glimpse into one of the most significant and early mid-century precursors to contemporary developments in big data.

'Measuring Matters: Histories of Assessing Inequality' takes place from 5 to 7 July 2017 at the Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge. The conference is sponsored by Cambridge's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). 

India’s booming business centres and gleaming shopping malls mask a grimmer reality. While one section of the population gets richer, another section gets poorer. In the countryside, farmers and others ‘left behind’ by the economic surge find themselves in increasingly desperate circumstances. In many cases their plight, exacerbated by crippling debt, has led to suicide.

Within the current Indian context, in which economic growth and rising inequality are once again at the centre of public debate, it has become all the more important to understand the history of data, how it is produced and what numbers really represent.
Women working in the rice paddy fields in Odisha, one of the the poorest regions of India

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Earliest-known children’s adaptation of Japanese literary classic discovered in British Library

By sjr81 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jun 14, 2017.

Dr Laura Moretti, from the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge, came across an unknown children’s picture-book, dating from 1766, under the title of Ise fūryū: Utagaruta no hajimari (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta) while on a study trip with her students.

The British Library copy, part of the collection belonging to Sir Ernest Satow, a 19th century British scholar and diplomat, is a picture-book adaptation of Ise Monogatari. Translated into English as The Tales of Ise, it is one of the most important works in Japanese literature and was originally composed probably in the late 9th century following the protagonist, Ariwara no Narihira, through his many romances, friendships and travels.

The Tales of Ise has since been adapted and reinterpreted continually down the centuries as part of the canon of Japanese literature.

“If we were to hazard a comparison, The Tales of Ise could be seen as the equivalent of the works of Shakespeare in terms of canonical status in Japan but I had never heard of or seen a children’s adaptation before – no-one knew of this book,” said Moretti. “This is a missing piece of the jigsaw. No one ever knew if it had been rewritten for children – but now we know. And it was sitting in the British Library all along.”

Dr Moretti’s new book, Recasting the Past (Brill, 2016), presents a full-colour reproduction of the 18th century edition, alongside a transcription in modern Japanese, an English translation, and textual analysis. The publication of the 1766 adaptation of the Tales of Ise fills a gap in scholars’ understanding of the work’s history. Although much scholarship has taken place on the reception of Tales of Ise and its target audiences in different epochs, no one has previously explored the age of its readership.

 

The 1766 introduction by the publisher shows that the book was intended to be read by children and there are various clues to support this view. The main character Narihira first appears as a young boy at school, a portrayal which encourages young people to identify with him. The whole text is also written using mainly the phonetic syllabary which could be understood by readers with only two years of schooling. The story was also abbreviated to include only 13 of the original 125 episodes –  making it easily accessible to a broad readership and was useful for introducing those with basic literacy to Japan’s cultural heritage. The book would have educated children in the narrative of The Tales of Ise as well as the aesthetic quality of the poetry.

Moretti, though, counters the notion that only children would have read Utagaruta no hajimari, and argues that the text could also work as a substitute of the The Tales of Ise for those adults with limited linguistic and cultural literacy.

Now, after several years of negotiating the necessary permissions to use the two complete extant copies (one held at the National Institute of Japanese Literature and the other at the Gotoh Museum, both in Tokyo; alas the British Library copy has only one volume of three) and to finish the transcription, translation and textual analysis, Utagaruta is available again for readers to enjoy – more than 250 years after it was first printed.

While graphic novels and comic books such as manga remain hugely popular in Japan and across the world today, instances of books where images and text are interdependent abound in pre-modern and early-modern Japanese literature. In this specific case, Moretti shows that the primary function of images was to complement the prose by filling in the gaps left by the narrative. Images set the scene for the story and helped to characterize the protagonists by depicting their dress and physical appearance.

Moretti believes that studying this children’s adaptation can give a contribution to the study of children’s literature in general, discovering aspects that might not be apparent in other cultures.

“Utagaruta no hajimari, for example, is trying to draw children into the world of the adult, rather than shield them from it by introducing children to sex and appropriate romantic behaviour,” she said.

“A vast number of early-modern Japanese picture-books that adapt canonical literature awaits to be studied. This research is the first step in the foundation of this field of study. If appropriately developed, it has the potential to shed light onto new sides of children’s literature as well as to advance in the understanding of how early-modern Japanese graphic prose functioned.” 

A chance discovery in the British Library has led to the discovery and reproduction of the earliest-known children’s adaptation of one of Japan’s greatest works of literature.

This is a missing piece of the jigsaw. And it was sitting in the British Library all along.
Laura Moretti

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The Longing of Belonging: African photography on show at MAA

By sjr81 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jun 13, 2017.

Kholwa: The Longing of Belonging showcases the work of South African photographer Sabelo Mlangeni who dreamt up the exhibition during conversations with Joel Cabrita, a researcher from Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity, who is researching the history of Zionism in South Africa. ‘Kholwa’ means ‘belief’ in isiZulu, one of the most widely spoken languages in South Africa.

Approximately 30 per cent of all South Africans are members of a Zionist church. Zionism (unrelated to Jewish Zionism) is the country’s largest popular religious movement but began life as a 20th century Protestant faith healing movement, originating in the small town of Zion (pop. 24,000), Illinois, in the largely white Midwest of the USA.

Cabrita’s work charts the dramatic shift and 20th century expansion of Christianity and seeks to explain how Zionism travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and became one of the most important influences in black communities more than 8,000 miles away. With approximately 15 million members, it is the largest Christian group in the region.

Mlangeni is a member of the Zionist church and his grounding in the religion can be traced in the intimate and person portraits of church members going on display in Cambridge. He and Cabrita are interested in examining what is at stake when a photographer turns his camera on a religious community they are part of.

Mlangeni said: “The biggest question for me is being part of the community, part of the church. How can I point out other people as being ‘amakholwa’ (‘the believers’) when that is what I myself am? This is a body of work that doesn’t ‘look’ at the Zionist church. It is very important for me to emphasise this, I am not interested in exotifying the church.

 

“I want to look at people gathering beyond church, and the strong spiritual relationships, which also include me. A long time before even studying photography, I made a lot of work about the church and church members. So my camera was in the church for a long time, church people knew me with a camera. When I look at this work, what’s important is the sense of intimacy between me and the church.”  

“For me the most important part of meeting with Joel Cabrita is that it brought something new to me, an understanding of where the Zionists came from, what their beginnings were, where the church was really born [in the USA].”

Some of Mlangeni’s images portray the umlindelo amakholwa (the night vigil of believers). This all-night service forms the cornerstone of Zionist worship across South Africa.

The service consists of long nights of the entire community gathered in longing expectation for the spirit to descend, whether ancestral spirits or the Christian God. Song, prayer, sermons and dance see the believers through the night. Umlindelo amakholwa is the occasion when bonds of solidarity and community are cemented between those who spend the night in expectant waiting. As dawn breaks, the believers make their way home, while some head to a full day of work. 

“Zionism was founded in the in the American Midwest in the 1890s and spread to South Africa in 1904 via missionaries and the circulation of faith-healing literature,” said Cabrita. “From the small town of Wakkerstroom, near the village of Driefontein where Sabelo grew up, Zionism spread across the region with migrant labourers returning from Johannesburg’s gold mines. Today, Zionism has adapted to African understandings of the world, with few traces of its North American roots. Southern African Zionists remain committed to the power of prayer to heal bodily illness as their American forebears.”

Working mainly in black and white, Mlangeni’s photographs focus on capturing the intimate, everyday moments of communities in contemporary South Africa. His work includes ‘Big City’ (2002 to 2015) which focuses on Johannesburg’s history, and ‘Country Girls’ (shot between 2003 and 2009), which focuses on gay communities in rural South Africa, especially in the area of Driefontein, his own village in the province of Mpumalanga.

As a childhood friend of many of his subjects, Mlangeni has been able to create photographs from a perspective of unique understanding and membership of the community he is portraying. Throughout his work, Mlangeni avoids ‘othering’ or ‘exoticising’ his subjects, and instead attempts to show the multi-faceted, intimate reality of daily life of these individuals. While many of them face discrimination due to their sexual identities, or are living in precarious socio-economic situations, Mlangeni’s work does not cast his subjects  as ‘victims’ but rather portrays their resilience, joyfulness and dignity as ordinary people.

“His photography continually erases and removes the boundaries between observer and subject,” added Cabrita. “Mlangeni is portraying his own belief as much as he is exploring the spiritual commitments of his photographic subjects.

“They chart his own journey towards belong, and longing for belonging within the Zionist community, a journey that has been mediated through a photographer’s lens. While some photographs reveal open, friendly gazes, others confront us with turned backs, inscrutable silhouettes and hidden figures buried deep in pictures, hinting at anonymity, inaccessibility and profound longing.”

Kholwa: The Longing of Belonging – which runs from June 13-September 10 – is free to the public. Visit www.maa.cam.ac.uk for further details and opening times.

A photography exhibition capturing the black South African Zionist community – the most popular religious denomination in the country – opens at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) today.

What’s important is the sense of intimacy between me and the church.
Sabelo Mlangeni
One of Sabelo Mlangeni's images going on display at MAA from today

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Opinion: Remainer or re-leaver? The philosophical conundrum posed by Brexit

By fpjl2 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jun 07, 2017.

​If you only glanced at a recent YouGov survey, you might think that a large majority of the UK is in agreement about Brexit. The electorate may have divided pretty evenly in the referendum, but now the 45% of “hard leavers” are joined by 23% who “voted to remain but still think the government has a duty to bring the UK out of the EU”.

One reading of this poll is that the country is now uniting behind Brexit. As YouGov headlined its report: “Forget 52%. The rise of the ‘re-leavers’ mean the pro-Brexit electorate is 68%.”

But to conclude that the country is uniting would be shallow, and for prime minister Theresa May, at least, dangerous.

Most people now accept Brexit, but that doesn’t mean they believe in it. Re-leavers are addressing a genuine philosophical problem: should you change your beliefs when you find yourself in the minority?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote:

When a law is proposed in the people’s assembly, what is asked of them is not precisely whether they approve or reject, but whether or not it conforms to the general will that is theirs. Each man [sic], in giving his vote, states his opinion on this matter, and the declaration of the general will is drawn from the counting of votes. When, therefore, the opinion contrary to mine prevails, this proves merely that I was in error, and that what I took to be the general will was not so.

Put to one side the fact that Rousseau thought citizens should reflect in solitude on what was best for the country and that they should not discuss their views before voting.

Rousseau’s point was that the result, when it came, revealed the true will of the people. If you find yourself in the minority, it means you were wrong. Brexit, one might conclude, was the correct choice. The 48% were simply in error.

A different view is associated with the liberal tradition. Being in the minority says nothing about “right” and “wrong”. It announces simply that you lost. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is an important distinction. If being in the minority means you were wrong, then presumably you wouldn’t be crazy to change your mind. After all, if we assume that everybody is equal in their ability to judge these questions, then the majority is more likely to be right.

But if being in the minority simply means that you lost, then perhaps it’s important that you don’t change your mind, that you don’t stop arguing the issue, and that you don’t stop using all the constitutional means at your disposal to press your case. It is vital to keep alive the arguments that lost the day because in a democracy you always get to fight another one.

Keeping alive those arguments is often difficult. There is always pressure on those who lost to admit they were wrong, to pretend they’ve changed their minds, or at least to shut up. The famous phrase “tyranny of the majority” was never just about protecting minority rights; it was about recognising the force of majority opinion.

To suggest that the UK is uniting around Brexit, then, is a danger to democracy itself. That danger comes from pressure on the losers to actually change their minds. Worryingly, this now seems to be May’s position. As she said in a campaign speech near Middlesborough:

You can only deliver Brexit if you believe in Brexit.

I'm not a ‘re-leaver’”, she seemed to be saying. “I’m now a true believer, and you should be too.”

The other danger is to May. If she thinks the country is really uniting around Brexit, then she could do worse than talk to the street musician interviewed by the Financial Times a few weeks ago: “I don’t think the referendum will be overturned. People seem to think of it as "the people’s vote” and to overturn it would in some way be seen to be undemocratic. People who voted Remain are powerless at the moment.“

He’s right. Those who voted to stay in the EU lost and are, at the moment, powerless. However, politics can change pretty quickly. Support for going ahead with Brexit is broad but shallow. If the economy starts getting worse, the true believers may march on undaunted, eyes fixed firmly on the horizon, but the re-leavers may find their doubts coming back to the surface.

The more salient number in the survey might turn out to be the true believers, who say they will stick with Brexit whatever the consequences: and that’s only 45%.

This article was originally published on The Conversation

A recent YouGov survey suggests there is increasing agreement that 'Brexit means Brexit'. However, Alfred Moore from the Conspiracy and Democracy Project suspects support is "broad but shallow", and forcing people to change their minds about Brexit poses a danger to democracy.

It is vital to keep alive the arguments that lost the day because in a democracy you always get to fight another one.
Alfred Moore
Farewell picture

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School of Arts and Humanities Newsletter Lent Term 2017

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 24, 2017.

School of Arts and Humanities Newsletter Lent Term 2017

Arts and Humanities appoints new Head of School

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 16, 2017.

Emer Prof Baroness Onora O'Neill wins 2017 Holberg Prize

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 15, 2017.

Vice Chancellor's Public Engagement and Impacts Awards are open!

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 10, 2017.

The deadline for nominations to the Vice Chancellor's Public Engagement and Impact Awards is April 21st.

Masterclass: Coordinating Complex Funding Bids

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 07, 2017.

Abandoned Liszt opera brought to life - 170 years later

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 07, 2017.

Capitalism on the Edge Lecture - last in the series!

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 27, 2017.

Capitalism on the Edge - What can women do to change how capitalism works?

Sidgwick Site Equalities Improvement Network talk March 7th

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 22, 2017.

The Future of the Professions

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 17, 2017.

David and Richard Susskins will talk about their latest book, The Future of the Professions, on February 23rd at CRASSH.

New book explores how articulating language is humans' greatest gift

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 14, 2017.

The Wonders of Language: How to make noises and influence people by Prof Ian Roberts (DTAL) was published last week by CUP and is now on display in the CUP bookshop.

Newton Awards deadline fast approaching!

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 03, 2017.

The deadline for the Newton International Fellowships, Newton Mobility Grants and Newton Advanced Fellowships is 15 March 2017

2017 Teaching Forum open for registration

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 03, 2017.

University launches 2017 Impact and Public Engagement Awards

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 01, 2017.

The 2017 University Impact and Public Engagement Awards are now open!

New starters in the Office of the School of Arts and Humanities

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 01, 2017.

DAAD Lecture: Imperial Violence and Mobilised Nations

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jan 26, 2017.

Cambridge DAAD Hub: Lecture by Leibniz Prize winner Prof. Dr. Lutz Raphael, 23 February, 5pm, Room 2 Mill Lane Lecture Theatres

CRASSH Communications Manager Vacancy

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jan 25, 2017.

Vacancy: Communications Manager in CRASSH

School welcomes new Council representatives

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jan 24, 2017.

Athena Swan Surgery Wednesday 25 January

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jan 24, 2017.

First SSEIN Talk February 1st

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jan 24, 2017.

The first Sidgwick Site Equalities Improvement Network talk on Wednesday February 1st will be given by Jacqueline Scott on 'Gender Inequalities in Production and Reproduction'.

Opening Reception for Gormley Sculpture on Sidgwick Site

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Dec 02, 2016.

Music Faculty Teaching Prizes 2016

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Dec 02, 2016.

Congratulations to the 2016 winners of the Faculty of Music's Teaching Prize!

School Newsletter Michaelmas Term 2016

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Dec 01, 2016.

Winners announced for the Inaugural Arts and Humanities Impact Pilot Fund

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Nov 17, 2016.

Cambridge support for MPs' position on the importance of language skills

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Oct 19, 2016.

On Monday 17th October, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages called on the UK Government to support languages education.

History of Art Department responds to the AQA decision to drop Art History A Level

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Oct 18, 2016.

Postgraduate Open Day - Wednesday November 2nd

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Oct 18, 2016.

Faculties and departments in the School of Arts and Humanities will be attending the University’s Postgraduate Open Day being held on Wednesday November 2nd 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Ensuring Artificial Intelligence benefits all mankind

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Oct 18, 2016.

Ambitious new centre launches at University of Cambridge

Dr Jesse Zink Awarded Audrey Richards Prize

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Sep 27, 2016.

The Rev Dr Jesse Zink has been awarded the Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK for his dissertation, “Christianity and Catastrophe: Sudan’s Civil Wars and Religious Change among the Dinka.” The prize recognizes the best doctoral dissertation in African studies examined in the UK in 2014 or 2015.

“Boycott Olympics” reconsidered at University of Cambridge conference in September

From School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Sep 20, 2016.

More than three decades after the boycotts of the Moscow and Los Angeles Olympics, athletes, archivists and experts will gather at a conference at Cambridge, 19-21 September to compare notes on what really happened.