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Otago Humanities thinkers bring ideas into the mix at Queenstown’s Jazzfest


Wednesday 18 October 2017 9:49am


'MindJam', a new exciting collaboration between the University of Otago Division of Humanities and Queenstown’s Catalyst Trust will form part of this weekend’s 40th Queenstown JazzFest, giving the chance for festival-goers to feed their minds when not otherwise occupied filling their ears with the sweet sounds of jazz.

During five hour-long events on Saturday and Sunday at the Yonder café on Church St, leading Humanities scholars from Otago will lead free-wheeling explorations of several hot topics in a relaxed conversational setting that will provoke flowing debates and the fruitful exchange of ideas.

University of Otago Pro-Vice-Chancellor Humanities Professor Tony Ballantyne says that the Humanities Division is​ excited to work together with Catalyst Trust and JazzFest to develop MindJam as a new string to a longstanding and important fixture on Queenstown’s cultural calendar.

“Drawing on some of our finest thinkers in disciplines such as classics, gender studies, law, politics and sociology these events allow the public to discuss important social and political questions with world-class thinkers.

“Jazz and its associated culture have always been marked by an openness and a spirit of exploration. MindJam extends those traditions to the exploration of important issues within in a relaxed and interactive setting dedicated to sharing and exchanging ideas,” says Professor Ballantyne.

The Division of Humanities has also been at the heart of the arts and cultural life of its hometown, Dunedin, and relishes the opportunity to engage creatively and collaboratively with the diverse audience that gathers in Queenstown for JazzFest, he adds.
​ “Promoting the exchange of knowledge, assessing divergent perspectives on significant questions, and investigating the texture of human life are central to our mission as teachers and researchers. We are delighted that this collaboration has taken shape and we are excited about these gatherings at the weekend,” he says.

The thought-provoking sessions of the inaugural “MindJam” series are set to be:

Session One: Saturday 21 October, 11 –12noon
Election 2017: what happened, and what next?”
Professor Andrew Geddis (Law) and Professor Robert Patman (Politics)
Join two of New Zealand’s leading political commentators for reflections on the twists and turns of the campaigning, thoughts on how the new government might perform, and what the political future may hold.

Session Two: Saturday 21 October, 4PM – 5PM
Talking Tyranny - From Caligula to Trump”
How can we make sense of the American President? Does looking back to the Emperors of Rome, like Caligula, help us understand our contemporary moment? Be part of this conversation, with Imperial Rome expert Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre (Classics) and global politics authority Professor Robert Patman (Department of Politics)

Session Three: Saturday 21 October, 11PM – 12AM (espressos half price)
Understanding the Social in Social Media”
Explore our new “Real Life Online” with digital society expert Dr Fairleigh Gilmour (Sociology, Gender and Social Work). We are surrounded by social media and online connections. In our era of hashtags, tweets, and selfies, how are we really using social media and how is it using us? How is the online world changing the way we relate to each other? And how are we reshaping society to suit the cyber realm?

Session Four: Sunday 22 October, 11AM – 12PM
THE RIVER PEOPLE: How Can a River be a Person inthe Law?”
Earlier this year the Whanganui River was recognised as a legal person, a decision that attracted global attention and stirred much debate. One of New Zealand's most influential legal scholars, Professor Jacinta Ruru (Law), will explore this decision and talk with us about its implications and significance.

Session Five: Sunday 22 October, 4PM – 5PM
PERSISTENT PANIC: Mashers, Millenials and Beyond: Making Sense of the Transformation of Youth Culture”
Have you ever asked yourself where teenagers come from? Researcher Associate Professor Chris Brickell (Sociology, Gender and Social Work) has assembled a stunning range of images, from the 1800s to today, illustrating the different ways young people have made sense of the world, of the changing shape of New Zealand society, and of themselves. Join us for a guided tour through these images and issues, and to discuss what they reveal.

*Participating in any or all of the sessions (Venue: Yonder café 14 Church St) is free, but seats are limited. Those interested in attending are advised to come along early, order their refreshments and find a comfy spot.

For more information, contact:

Professor Tony Ballantyne
Pro- Vice-Chancellor (Humanities)
University of Otago

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