Being Human Festival Funding for ‘Environmental Storytelling Between Stoke-on-Trent and New Delhi’

We are pleased to share news that Dr Pawas Bisht has been successful in securing funding from the Being Human Festival 2021 for the organisation of a series of participatory storytelling workshops and a public screening and discussion event; the activity series is titled ‘Environmental storytelling between Stoke-on-Trent and New Delhi: Tackling Air Pollution’ and involves a collaboration with B arts, the leading participatory arts organisation working in Stoke-on-Trent. Being Human is the UK’s national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The 2021 edition of the festival is focused on the theme of ‘Renewal’ and runs between 11-20 November. The proposed activities would explore the festival’s theme from the perspective of environmental renewal and draws on Dr Bisht (PI), Dr Giraud (Co-I) and Dr Kidwai’s (Co-I) ongoing British Academy funded project on ‘Storytelling for Environmental Change’

The workshops would engage young people (18–25-year-olds) from Stoke-on-Trent enabling them to produce their own stories about the problem of air pollution in their city and their imaginations of sustainable urban futures. The participants will engage in a two-way conversation with UK and India based researchers, environmental advocates, and filmmakers to share knowledge around environmental storytelling. Drawing on this dialogue, and with the mentorship of B arts based artists Martin Gooding and Natalie Willatt, the participants will produce four short films examining the issue of air pollution and environmental degradation in Stoke-on-Trent. A public event will be scheduled in the festival week (between 11-20 November) for the screening of the films and a discussion about environmental futures and the role of stories and storytelling in enabling cultural and behavioural change.

Overall, the proposed activity aims to:

Provide an opportunity for the development and sharing of community-led imaginations and stories of urban environmental renewal

Focus on engaging young audiences who are the most direct stakeholders in the development of environmentally sustainable futures

Build transnational connections and dialogue

Enhance community resilience and skills for the development of sustainable and hospitable environmental futures

Published by Pawas Bisht

Dr Pawas Bisht is a Senior Lecturer in Media, Communications and Culture, Deputy Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, and Programme Director for the MA Global Media programmes at Keele University. He is an experienced media researcher and documentary filmmaker and has previously worked for leading institutions in the UK (Loughborough and Leicester) and India (AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia). His research focuses on media and cultural politics in relation to environmental activism, cultural memory, and public mobilisations of documentary storytelling. Pawas is currently leading ‘Storytelling for Environmental Change’, a two-year research project (2021-2023) that mobilises environmental storytelling to tackle the catastrophic challenge of urban air pollution confronting India (funded by the British Academy's Humanities and Social Sciences’ Tackling Global Challenges Programme, supported under the UK Government's Global Challenges Research Fund). His earlier ethnographic research on social movements and memory-work in relation to the Bhopal Gas Disaster has been published in leading journals including Media, Culture & Society and Contemporary South Asia. His films have been shown on Channel 4 (UK), CNBC, and Doordarshan (India’s national public service broadcaster) as well as in art venues in UK, India, US, and Europe. They include work commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility. Recently produced films include 'Back to the Drawing Board' (2017), a portrait of the British designers Pat Albeck and Peter Rice, ‘Memory Archipelago’ (2018), an examination of the politics of Gulag memory on the Solovetsky Islands in Russia’s Far North, and ‘(Not) Acting Our Age’ (2019), examining ageing, theatre and creativity. Pawas is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

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