Being Human 2016

The Being Human Festival took place from 17-25 November 2016, with Leeds acting as a regional hub for activities that included events led by both the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett.

Griselda Pollock was the Leeds Ambassador for the festival, and several of the events were held at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery and the Leeds Library. The School of Advanced Study at the University of London coordinated the national festival, which was sponsored by the AHRC, the British Academy, and Routledge.

In total, there were 11 events (10 at Leeds, 1 at Leeds Beckett), 568 tickets sold, and 762 attendees. Several of the events, such as those relating to the US Slavery and Yorkshire Anti-Slavery event, had several activities within them, encouraging a wide range of attendees because of the different timings and objectives. The Visions of the Future event targeted local schools for their attendees. The Leeds events were organised by representatives from a wide range of departments, including the School of History, the Institute of Cultural Studies, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Department of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.



“I’ve never seen an audience so engaged and inspired and I’m sure we’ll all remember the emotions of seeing the Crofts brought to life. It’s so amazing hearing the voices of these visitors to England after being freed from slavery. Hope more develops from this.”—Lucy, on the Yorkshire Anti-Slavery event.

“Great #hpsin20 lecture tonight - I learnt a lot about both anthrax & goats - which is definitely an evening well spent.”—Rebecca, on the Death in 24 Hours event.

“Engaging talk from the speaker. Very thought provoking. Has encouraged me to find out more. Great to hear account from George read out and to hear from the chap in the audience.”—attendee, Hungarian Refugee Experience event.


“Student participants said they were moved by the stories behind the performances, and fascinated by the research processes that lie behind them. Members of local synagogues have said that they found the performance revealing and surprising, opening up new areas of knowledge for them.”—Stephen Muir, relaying attendee feedback from Jewish Archive event.  

“Our event attracted the attention of other mosque committees in Bradford, and indeed one mosque has already approached us since our event to discuss collaboration of a similar kind.”—Mustapha Skeikh.

“Taking part this year enabled us to develop an event that would not have happened without the funding, so that, and the relationship building that has taken place, was positive.”—Laura Wilson.

“I really enjoyed being part of this... It was a lovely way to say goodbye to my Nanna, in a more personal way. I was so impressed with the performance and what you and Laura have created, and very proud indeed to be a part of it.”—member of staff, Lost in Memories event.

“I found this to be an excellent experience – thoroughly enjoyable and a lot of fun. I am certainly even more keen than before to explore ways to bring my own research and research interests to public audiences.”—Simon Hall, Hungarian Refugee event.

“Definitely raised public profile and also institutional prestige. Perhaps made us more likely to run similar things ourselves in the future.”—James Stark, Death in 24 Hours event.

“The venue was perfect, plenty of room for the activities. The library staff had provided the books from Special Collections that we requested, and briefed us on how to use them. I was impressed by how thrilled the children were to see the valuable books from the 19th C and earlier – this aspect (which was the novel part of the Being Human link) worked much better than I’d hoped.”—James McKay, Visions of the Future event.

“Networking with funders and other significant people at the London launch was extremely valuable and will help with future projects and funding.”—Stephen Muir, Jewish Archive event.

“We had a really good discussion about the 'synthetic revolution' and the impact of manmade fibres on the textile industry as well as the transformative role of manmade fibres (hopes) and the environmental impact - and how to respond to this (fears). Kate was brilliant at explaining the contemporary innovations that are transforming the industry in the same way that manmade fibres did in 50's. (hopes and fears).”—Ann Sumner, Textile Threads event.


Visions of the Future (blog)

Performing the Jewish Archive (video)

Soft Driver (video)

Death in 24 Hours (blog)

Lost in Memories (blog)

Lost in Memories (blog)

Urban Dreams (radio interview) 

Canon to Critique: the Future of Islamic Education (video)