“A discussion that will move people and shake things up”

Personal portrait.

Christina Kullberg, project manager for the Democracy and Higher Education research programme, discusses the ideas behind one of the programme items for the Uppsala International Literature Festival, 20–23 March 2024. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.

Hello Christina Kullberg, project manager for the Democracy and Higher Education research programme. The research programme has a collaboration with the Uppsala International Literature Festival to be held between 20–23 March.

How does the research programme participate in the Uppsala International Literature Festival?

The programme on 21 March is a collaborative project with the Uppsala International Literature Festival. Kholod Saghir, an alumnus of Uppsala University, started the literature festival seven years ago, and as of last year, Democracy and Higher Education has a collaboration with the festival. Saghir runs the festival, while I, as the project manager, provide input on guests and devising the theme.”

What do you think we can expect from the evening of 21 March? 

A discussion that will move people and shake things up. Gideon Levy takes a stand. Things will get pretty impassioned.”

You’ve invited Gideon Levy. Who is he and why have you invited him?

Gideon Levy is an award-winning journalist and author. His work to make the experiences of Palestinians visible to Israelis is an important part of the democratisation process in a conflict area. Today, as bombs fall and hatred is on the rise, his voice is extremely important. That’s why I’m proud to co-organise this particular event and introduce the University to the voice of Gideon Levy in conversation with Kholod Saghir and Mikael Olsson Al Safandi.”

What benefits do you think the evening can bring?

I think students and researchers can benefit from this in their role as thinking, feeling people and citizens. Levy has worked tirelessly against the dehumanisation of the other, the stranger, and to promote solidarity and compassion. In Sweden, we see anti-Semitism growing and the dehumanisation of Muslims increasing, not least among politicians. Levy warns against these tendencies and reminds us of the importance of voices critical of power and the normalisation of xenophobia.”

How does this discussion relate to the Democracy and Higher Education research programme? 

Free journalism is the cornerstone of democratic societies and essential for research. Levy’s scrutiny of Israeli policy on Palestine has led to him receiving direct threats. Today, the Israeli government has designated him a traitor. He calls himself a patriot. It’s important that the University provides a platform for critical voices and the persistent effort to uncover the truth in an era of disinformation.”

The truth-seeking journalism that Levy engages in is highly relevant to higher education. To some extent, researchers and journalists share objectives and methods and can learn from each other. What’s more, many people at the University are probably wondering how the war is affecting higher education and research collaborations with institutions in the region. It raises questions about boycotts and support, which is important to reflect upon.”

Anders Berndt

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