25 Days of CoDI: Day 24

On the penultimate day of CoDI Clare was quick to warn me, of the antibiotic apocalypse I could never see!

Clare Taylor: The Antibiotic Apocalypse Threatens Us All!

So tell us, who is Clare Taylor?

I am a Senior MedicalMicrobiology Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University and currently General Secretary of the Society for Applied Microbiology. I’m also a Beltane Fellow (they tell me it is for life) and enjoy discussing science with pretty much anyone who will listen!

My scientific passion is for bacteria that invade human cells and cause infection, known as intracellular pathogens. In my lab we work on Salmonella and Listeria, two bacteria that are commonly associated with foodborne infection. We are trying to understand aspects of how these bacteria interact with humans during infection.

Furthermore, we are also trying to use our growing knowledge to effectively turn these bacteria against themselves. For example, by developing novel antimicrobial therapeutics that exploit some of the bacterium’s own ‘weapons’.  I’ve performed 3 shows at CODI during the Fringe in 2014 and 2015 and I am looking forward to some lively debate about my research this year too!

We always enjoy your CoDI appearances, what have you got in store for us this year?

Antibiotics are a type of therapeutic agent that are used to treat bacterial infection. We have been using them in human medicine since the 1940s but they are also widely used in veterinary medicine and to promote growth of livestock.  But why are we hearing more and more about the ‘antibiotic apocalypse’ (just Google: antibiotic apocalypse…)?

Experts, including clinicians and microbiologists are talking about antibiotic resistance more and more, but do you know what this actually means? When surveyed, almost a third of respondents described antibiotic resistance as “it’s the body becoming resistant to antibiotics”.CODI 13.08.15 Women, science is still not for you (credit Dee Davison)

Tell us more…

In actual fact, it means that antibiotic resistant bacteria can no longer be treated with a particular type of antibiotic. Therefore, if we get an infection with one of these bacteria, we can’t treat it with the antibiotic of choice. This means it is down to who wins the battle – body or bacterium – that determines whether you survive or not.

This all sounds very serious, doesn’t it? And what is this apocalyptic scenario that many are referring to? Come and see the show to ask questions to find out. In addition, I’ll tell you about some of the work we are doing in the lab to try and develop alternative ways of treating infection. Who knows,  you might even get the chance to do your bit for scientific research.

Clare’s show takes place on Saturday 27th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at:http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/120/performance/1557/book-tickets

Antibiotic apocalypse


25 Days of CoDI: Day 23

Shhhhhh it’s a surprise….

On the twenty-third day of CoDI Beltane revealed little to me…

IndyRef2: The Rebellion Continues?23-brexit

We don’t want to give too much away but here’s a sneak peak:

A Tory victory at the General Election, the crushing of Labour in Scotland, chaos on the Opposition front benches, and, finally, England voted Leave, Scotland voted Remain. 

Britain’s on the edge of Brexit, so is the stage set for Indyref 2?

Was the referendum a once in a lifetime opportunity?

Which referendum?

Should there be IndyRef2?

Can we get to Europe on our own and who wants a job manning the Border Crossing booth at Gretna….?

Join us to hear what Tommy Sheppard and Nicola McEwen have to say – but more importantly, get your voice heard.

Watch this space as we reveal our other guest speakers over the coming weeks!

The show (inc debate) takes place on Wednesday 24th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/215/performance/2036/book-tickets


25 Days of CoDI: Day 22

On the twenty-second day of CoDI Khadijah spoke up to ‘Let Extremists Speak’

Khadijah Elshayyal: Let Extremists Speak?


Tell us a little bit about yourself and the show Khadija Extremists

My name is Khadijah Elshayyal. I am a research fellow at the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, at the University of Edinburgh. Here I conduct research and teach on the subject of Muslims in Britain. I am particularly interested in Muslim identity politics in Britain, and how this has evolved over time. Historically, freedom of expression has featured regularly in causes championed by British Muslim representative and advocacy groups. I argue that over the past few decades, there has been an interesting interplay between the development of British Muslim identity politics on one hand, and British Muslim perspectives on freedom of expression on the other.

How does your CoDI talk fit with your research?

One of the most pressing and controversial topics affecting British Muslims in recent times have been the impacts of counter-terrorism measures and securitization – many of which are acutely felt. Since 2000, successive counter-terrorism legislation has ventured further and further into the area of restricting expression. For example, the Terrorism Act 2006 introduced what are often referred to as ‘encouragement offences’ . These make ‘the glorification of terrorism’ a criminal offence. The government of the day, and successive governments, have justified this on the grounds that it is meant to address the threats posed by ‘non-violent extremists’ – those who may not commit acts of violence, but who’s rhetoric is considered to encourage or legitimize it.

Other aspects of government counter-extremism policy, for instance the controversial Prevent strategy, have also been criticized for arguably monitoring expression within communities or creating a chilling effect. People are inhibited from freely expressing themselves , for fear that they may be reported or prosecuted. Religion and politics, for example, are two particular areas where people restrict their speech . Worse still, extremist individuals and groups that have been banned have continued to operate ‘underground’ or regularly re-emerged using new names.

But freedom of expression is often portrayed as one of our most cherished values?

Indeed, David Cameron, and current PM Theresa May, have both championed ‘individual liberty’ as part of the ‘British values’ that we should all be signing up to. So how comfortably do these increasing restrictions on expression sit with our liberal, ‘British’ values?

Is the restriction of expression in the name of security a necessary trade-off? Or are we contradicting the very values that we hold dear?

Do aspects of government securitization policy affect Muslims and other minorities disproportionately? Are we creating ‘suspect communities’ as a result? What are the impacts of this on integration and social cohesion?

All of these and more are questions that I hope to discuss and unpack at my show.

Why did you choose to take part in CODI 2016?

I feel passionately that many of these issues have become victims of oversimplified and sensationalized media coverage. It often suits politicians and journalists to promote a black and white narrative around issues to do with national security. Often this can have serious real world consequences – such as surges in Islamophobia and hate crimes. Such consequences could be seen after the EU referendum.

The public deserve a more nuanced, in depth discussion around what the issues at stake are. A discussion away from irresponsible rhetoric, peppered with inflated, broad-brush statistics, that have been so generalized as to be bereft of any real meaning.

I hope that at CODI we can look beyond the tabloid headlines and the political soundbites to better understand the issues around extremism, security, integration and Islamophobia as they affect British Muslims and us all.

What are you looking forward to most from CoDI?

CODI is a great opportunity to engage directly with the public – to take academic debates outside of the lecture theatre and into the open where they can be interrogated, defended, critiqued, as well as mocked and ridiculed.

Khadijah’s show takes place on Monday 22nd August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at:  http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/119/performance/1556/book-tickets

Extremists poster

25 Days of CoDI: Day 21

On the twenty-first day of CoDI Mcara and McVie called to me… ‘Let’s all hug a thug’

Lesley McAra and Susan McVie: Hug a Thug

Let’s all hug a thug!CODI (25.08.15) Hug a thug (credit Lucy Gibbons) (3)

In July 2006, David Cameron gave his famous ‘hug a hoodie’ speech in which he claimed that this archetypal adolescent fashion accessory had become “a vivid symbol of what has gone wrong with young people in Britain today”.  So what does the hoodie really represent?  Lesley and Susan dig deeper into adolescent deviant sub-culture and explain why we should all ‘hug a thug’ instead.

Tell us a bit about yourselves?

Lesley is Professor of Penology (that sometimes gets a snigger) and Dean of Public Engagement. Meanwhile Susan is Professor of Quantitative Criminology (bit of a mouthful).  We are both passionate researchers with an interest in youth crime and juvenile justice. Together (amongst many other things) we co-direct the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime. The Study is longitudinal, made up of around 4000 young people based in Scotland’s capital city.

We approach our work from a developmental point of view – in other words, we are interested in how people change as they go through life – and we firmly believe that people’s futures are not pre-determined by their past.  Everyone has the capacity to change, even those who get a really bad start in life. As a result of researching the lives of many young people, we can identify things that can help offenders to get back on track and desist from crime. Hug A Thug Lesley

What does your research tell us about ‘thugs’?

We have used the term ‘thugs’ to be provocative in our show. What we really aim to do however, is to show that young people who get involved in offending (not all of which wear hoodies, by the way) have many different dimensions to their lives. They are not all the same.  Many people get involved in a little bit of offending as part of their ‘normal’ transition from childhood to adulthood. Go on – admit it – haven’t most of us done something that we were not proud of while we were growing up?

A smaller number of young people will get involved in a more serious and long term pattern of offending. That pattern can often lead to contact with the criminal justice system and, in some cases, lead to imprisonment.  These people find it harder to desist from offending, for a variety of reasons. For this reason, it is important that we use our research to find ways of both preventing them from offending and reducing their offending once they have started.

Are some people just born bad?

There is very little evidence that anybody is ‘born bad’, although there have been some studies that show some genetic influences on behavior.  The research in this area tends to suggest that someone with particular genetic markers will only be at increased risk of offending if they are brought up in a damaging environment; for example, they are exposed to poor parenting practices and they are not nurtured as well as they should be.

Most of the research evidence shows a wide variety of social and environmental factors, that impact on people’s behavior. By minimizing the negative influences and promoting the positive ones we can help to change people’s behavior for the better.  The reality is that most young people who get involved in more serious and persistent offending are also very vulnerable. They come from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds.  There is a very high probability that they will have been victims of crime themselves. Often they are struggling to cope with life on a day to day basis.  They may lack the skills and support to tackle the problems that keep them in a cycle of offending behavior.

The difficulty is that there is no one ‘pathway’ that all people who offend follow. Tailored solutions are needed to meet individual needs.  But this can be expensive and difficult to target (especially because we don’t necessarily know who is going to be involved in the most offending).  The key is to identify ‘typical’ lifestyles and patterns of behavior. From there we must do our best to try and  support those in society who may be most ‘at risk’. Hug A Thug Susan

So what happens to young people who offend?

Evidence from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime shows that young people who offend tend to just grow out of it naturally – they mature and go on to lead normal, law abiding lives.  In fact, most adolescent offences are very low level. So much so that they do not come to the attention of the criminal justice system.  Some (although not all) young people who get involved in more serious or persistent offending will come to the attention of the police. It is their decision as to whether the person needs to be dealt with formally or not.  They may be referred to the Children’s Reporter or they may be charged and taken to court.

A small proportion of young people end up in prison because of their offending behavior.  However, there is increasing emphasis on using alternatives to imprisonment.This is due to the recognition that prison can have a damaging effect on young people. Moreover it can often make them more likely to carry on committing crime.  Alternatives to imprisonment include things like community service, electronic tagging and diversion to drug treatment programmes.

Why should people come and see you in CoDI 2016?

Everybody is interested in crime!  And our show aims to take a light hearted approach to challenging commonly held perceptions about offending and offenders.  The title ‘hug a thug’ is intended to show that we believe a compassionate approach to dealing with young people who offend is likely to be more productive than punishing them.

Scotland is a very progressive country. Many of the changes to our criminal justice system in recent years have moved in a positive direction – especially the increased focus on using alternatives to imprisonment.  We will give our audience a flavor of what it’s like to go to prison (including sight and smell) and discuss the advantages of alternative disposals, such as electronic tagging.


Lesley and Susan’s show takes place on Friday 26th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at:  http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/119/performance/1556/book-tickets

Hug A Thug BarsHug A Thug

25 Days of CoDI: Day 20

On the twentieth day of CoDI, Helen, Miguel, and Tilo ask whether Dolly, the famous cloned sheep, was a major discovery or a curious scientific distraction?

Helen Sang, Miguel Garcia Sancho Sanchez and Tilo Kunath: Dolly The Sheep

It’s been 20 years since the birth of Dolly – the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell.  The media frenzy that followed was a mixed one. There was both celebration due to the grand scientific achievement and fear because of the seemingly real possibility of human cloning.

Why was Dolly cloned in the first place? What did we learn from this almost futuristic experiment? Furthermore, was there any benefit to human society and human health? Cloning doesn’t seem to be widespread 20 years after Dolly, so what benefits, if any, have we gained from cloning.

Please join Prof Helen Sang, Dr Miguel Garcia-Sancho, and Dr Tilo Kunath for a lively discussion as they attempt to address these questions and hear your views.

Dolly the Sheep Cake
Dolly’s 20th Birthday Cake

About Prof Helen Sang

Helen has a PhD in genetics from Cambridge University. When Dolly was cloned at the Roslin Institute Helen was there. Her research involves applying genetic engineering in chickens, with a major aim to produce chickens that are resistant to bird flu. In addition, she has a keen interest in discussing the issues involved in genetic modification of foods.

About Dr Miguel Garcia-Sancho

Miguel studied History of Science for his PhD at Imperial College London. He is a Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are in the history of contemporary biomedicine, with special emphasis on the emergence of biotechnology as a new form of knowledge production that is still shaping our era.

About Dr Tilo Kunath

Tilo is a stem cell biologist who obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto. He is a Group Leader at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine where he uses stem cells to model and understand Parkinson’s disease. He uses “reprogramming” technology to make induced stem cells from the skin of Parkinson’s patients.

Dolly’s show takes place on Thursday 25th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at:   http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/118/performance/1555/book-tickets

Dolly printed background

25 Days of CoDI: Day 19

On the nineteenth day of CoDI a crazy Canadian said to me “More Plastics = A Better World”

Mike Shaver: More Plastics = A Better World

More plastic?! Is he from Mars? Actually no he’s not…


Introduce yourself Mikemichael shaver

I’m Mike.

Okay very funny, now seriously, tell us a bit about yourself…

Well I’m certainly not from Mars… I’m a Canadian, first and foremost. I studied inorganic chemistry in Canada at Mount Allison University and the University of British Columbia. At the end of my PhD, I decided I wanted to develop chemistry with real global impact, so when I was awarded an NSERC Post-doctoral Fellowship, I made a big career change into polymer chemistry at (and my first trans-Atlantic journey to) Imperial College London.

Mike Map

From there, I moved back to Canada and started an independent career working in “green” polymer chemistry. In short this involved improving the sustainability of polymers (plastics, coatings, adhesives, materials). It was at this stage of my career that I also started to care passionately about public understanding of science. I began participating in a number of public engagement events, including multiple appearances on CBC Radio and Television (the Canadian equivalent of the BBC).

Mike CR LogoMike UOE Logo





In an effort to increase the impact of my research (and public engagement, of course), I took up the opportunity to move to the University of Edinburgh almost 4 years ago. This has been a big boost, as our group has been able to work with a diverse array of industrial partners to develop new products and explore improving different processes through designing new catalysts and new polymers. In addition, I’ve  expanded the scope of my public engagement events. I did a TEDx talk, numerous stand-up comedy shows through Bright Club, and lots of other talks and events. Much of this has been focused on demystifying what the word plastics means to the general public – taking what is a negative opinion and getting people to think a bit deeper about these essential materials.

Mike @ TEDOkay, so now that we have your life history, tell us where does CoDI fit into all of this? 

I think CODI is the perfect way to reach such an interested audience and build a conversation around plastics – the contentious statement of needing more plastics, not less, seems flawed at its core, but that’s why I chose it! Hopefully people come along with both a strong opinion AND an open mind!

Mike’s show takes place on Tuesday 23rd August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/97/performance/1532/book-tickets

Michael Plastic


25 Days of CoDI: Day 18

On the eighteenth day of CoDI, Nicola got me wondering what she would find if she googled me…

Nicola Osborne: If I Googled You, What Would I Find?

Odds are there is something about you on the internet… But, did you share it? Did someone else? And what are those tracks and traces saying about you?

Tell us a bit about yourself…N Osborne

Well, first of all I am Nicola Osborne.  I work as Digital Education Manager and Service Manager at EDINA, based at the University of Edinburgh. My role essentially means I get to work on lots of really interesting innovative technology, as well as education projects. These include citizen science, mobile apps, etc.  My background and research interest is around social media and how we present ourselves and engage online.

So what brings you to CoDI, or rather what do you bring to it?

In my CODI 2016 show – my fourth! – I’m going to be talking about the tracks and trails we all leave behind online. I’ll explore how they get there, what they say about us, and some of the ways we can manage our digital footprints more effectively.The show is also an opportunity to share some of what we have learned from the recent (2014-) “Managing Your Digital Footprint” research we’ve Digital Footprint been undertaking at the University of Edinburgh. In that project we’ve been asking our students how they use social media, how they manage and think about their online presence, and what that means for teaching and support practices.

One of the things I’m keen to share in my show is the choice and opportunities that social media and online presences can provide. My own life has been improved immeasurably by the people and information I’ve connected to through web and social media activity.

But, of course, I’ll have a few scarier stories too. It can be very easy to forget how often we share or volunteer information about ourselves in the course of our daily life, while accessing the internet. Consequently, we don’t always think about what we’ve agreed to share, or what footprint we are leaving behind…

Care to expand?

For instance, if you (or your kids) play Pokemon Go, the hit game of the summer, you’ll have been asked to agree to:

1. share your personal data, including your date of birth;
2. ensure that your personal data is accurate – and that you commit to keep it up to date in the future;
3. you agree for any message you send or receive to other players to be stored for as long as the good folks at Pokemon decide is suitable;
4. you share your IP address,
5. you share the unique identifier for your mobile device;
6. you share your location data which you agree to let Pokemon Go share with other users of the game…

When you put it like that…

And you do that in exchange to download a “free” app. An app that essentially lets you chase and challenge cute animated characters around town on your phone. The game seems awesome. I can’t deny it’s very entertaining watching folk out and about playing it in the Edinburgh sunshine. But maybe you didn’t know about all of the date you were sharing when signing up to those terms? Maybe you just hit the big Approve button? It is always the tempting offer…

Between our social media profiles, gaming profiles, public information about us, and our browsing, buying and clicking habits, most of us that live at least part of our lives online are building up complex “digital footprints” – tracks and traces of ourselves that tell a story about who we are, what we do, what we care about… But how accurate is that picture? When did you last search for yourself online? Do you like what you see?Nicola @ CoDI15

So what are you most looking forward to about taking part in you know, your FOURTH CoDI?

In the show I’m looking forward to sharing some of the ways our digital tracks and traces matter. I’ll be exploring how they represent us and how we can make more informed choices presenting ourselves online. And I’m particularly excited to hear from my lovely audience about their own experiences, concerns and some silly stories too!

So, in conclusion,  If I Googled you, what would I find? Join me on 21st August for some thrills, spills and ideas for managing your digital footprint more effectively!

Nicola’s show takes place on Sunday 21st August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/115/performance/1550/book-tickets


25 Days of CoDI: Day 17

On the seventeenth day of CoDI it was time to take a look at our fellow fury friends…


MaryBownes: Should We Have Zoos?zoo

So you don’t think zoos are doing any harm? Oh you over there, you do? Well then, let’s see what Professor Mary Bownes has to say about it all…

Over to you Mary

 Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a developmental biologist and have studied reproductive biology hormones, genetics and molecular biology for many years. During this time I introduced new undergraduate courses, ran the Institute of cell and molecular biology, and trained PhD students.


Additionally I found that I was also interested in running the university as a whole. The training of postgraduate students and in public engagement and engagement with schools especially interested me. It seemed that one could not run a large lab and do all these other things that I felt were very important and where I could have a real impact on the future of many people and the way the University operated.  Further to do modern research in this field you always need to have a large lab. You must be extremely competitive, always fighting for new grants and attending and speaking at meetings. Yet many people work on the same problem and if you did not do the research somebody else would.

So if I didn’t do it someone else would.


I therefore decided to stop running a large research lab and to focus fully on public engagement and other university-wide activities. People often ask if I miss my research. Of course you miss the experience of working with an enthusiastic team and discovering new things personally about science, but I actually use my research skills all the time. I genuinely feel that the things I have done instead have really changed the way things happen at the University and well beyond.


I produced teacher resources on stem cells and on Darwin and Evolution which are widely used across the UK.  During the last 12 years I have done many things for the training of postgraduate students ensuring that they are able to talk about their research to the wider public. I have set up activities across all the universities in Edinburgh to get researchers to engage with the wider public about what they are doing and why. I worked extensively on widening access to higher education and the way students can enter the University from different backgrounds. Furthermore, I have been involved in leading sustainability and social responsibility and in running a large fundraising campaign. Much of this work helped students from disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to afford to attend the University.


Eventually, I became Senior Vice-Principal/Deputy Vice Chancellor.

What do you do now?

Having now partly retired from the University, I want to still focus part time on a particular set of projects. These projects, I believe, will lead to better alignment with a number of organisations in the city of Edinburgh and Scotland. This alignment will hopefully lead to a better experience for members of the public and broader education for students. These institutions all have a remit to be available to the public and have an educational aspect to them. Examples of such institutions include The National Museums of Scotland, The National libraries of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland. A less obvious choice perhaps, was to engage with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Edinburgh zoo.


So while my research activity was basic fundamental research in the area of cells, genetics and how things work in an individual organism I should say that I have always been interested in animals and plants. I have visited zoos and wildlife parks and botanic gardens wherever I go. I have also travelled extensively. Highlights include visiting the Kruger National Park in South Africa several times and travelling to the Galapagos Islands, Sri Lanka and Madagascar to watch wildlife and take photographs. This makes me very aware of the issues faced in these countries. Issues regarding extreme poverty and the need to feed the population and improve their health and lifestyles whilst somehow conserving the amazing wildlife that they have.

Why did you choose to take part in CoDI 2016?

As a researcher, the founder of Beltane and a with long term commitment to helping researchers participate in public engagement in a variety of ways, how could I refuse to engage with CODI?  Although I am no longer running a biology research lab, I use my research skills daily. They help in all aspects of decision making relating to my job. I wanted to share my latest thinking relating to the role of zoos in today’s society and how they fit with the aims of an engaged research intensive University. A university who is willing to work in partnership with a variety of organisations.  The new focus of many zoos on conservation, education and research is important. It fits with a wider context of loss of habitat, climate change and loss of species.

What are you most looking forward to at CoDI 2016?

I am really looking forward to hearing the views of a diverse group of people, on whether or not we shall have zoos (and other related organisations like wildlife parks, safari parks, sea life parks and more). Furthermore, assuming we do, what do people think their purpose should be?



Mary’s show takes place on Saturday 20th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/114/performance/1551/book-tickets


25 Days of CoDI: Day 16

On the sixteenth day of CoDI Angus Bancroft said to me ‘Cyber Crime Benefits Society’…

Angus Bancroft: How Cyber Crime Benefits Society


Are you in the dark when it comes to the dark net? Well just as well we have Angus here to shine some light on the matter then.

Angus Bancroft I am Angus Bancroft, a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. My research is about illicit drug use, illicit markets and cyber-crime. I research the darknet, the hidden, anonymised internet which hosts markets for illicit drugs and criminal services.


A growing trend is for illicit markets to integrate with legal services and systems. In some ways innovation on the darknet drives the production and adoption of technologies which can have a wider social use. For example, anonymous browsing technology can both enable malicious internet activity and also protect dissidents in repressive regimes.


This is my second CODI – my first was in 2014 when I talked about why people binge drink and why they don’t much care about sensible drinking advice. I enjoy CODI because of the wide range of people who come, who have different experiences and opinions on the topic – and CODI lets them talk back.


Ideas are power, and CODI gives people ideas. 


Angus’ show takes place on Friday 19th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at:  http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/113/performance/1548/book-tickets


Angus Cybercrime



25 Days of CoDI: Day 15

On the fifteenth day of CoDI Rachel got me to surprise… what would I put in my archive?

Rachel Hosker: Is This Your Life?

Ever thought about your own personal archive? Ever wondered about the skeletons that might find their way into it? Or are you certain all your skeletons will die with you? Well, don’t be so sure about that, why? Well don’t just take it from us…

Rachel ArchivesTell us about yourself!

I am Rachel Hosker, Archives Manager at the University of Edinburgh. As an archivist I make the University’s rare and unique collections available to researchers and anyone who is interested. I love my job as with each day you never know what you will uncover or share working with collections that hold the evidence of real people and real life within them.

And it is the sharing them with others that makes our work truly enjoyable and exciting; especially when they surprise people or you get an unexpected reaction to a discovery!

So with the real life and real people recorded in our collections in mind, I chose my ‘Dangerous idea’, which is that we all leave a trace of ourselves in the world. Some people leave an almost complete documentary of their lives, while others leave as little as possible. But what if you were to leave an archive? Would this reflect you, your life, thoughts, personality, work, interests, and relationships? What would be destroyed and forgotten?  Would it solely leave your own perspective of yourself? What would others put in an archive about you?

Rachel Archives





So does everyone have an archive?

Some people actually want the right to be forgotten and to leave no trace, but I would suggest that would be very difficult to achieve. We all have birth and death records, some have marriage or civil partnerships recorded.  Maybe you were caught in a photograph in 1975 that was published in a newspaper or you wrote a poem for a school magazine and you certainly would have been recorded in the school registers. Maybe someone wrote a letter and mentioned you and your role in an event. The list of possibilities goes on and the potential for unknown traces to be left in archives grows and grows as you think about it.

So I will propose that no-one is immune from this, no-one can escape leaving their trace.

What I’ve also see in my work with archives is that gaps are left too.  Sometimes this is because someone purposely does not want particular mentions, opinions or evidence to survive.  Sometimes it is just due to the natural loss of items as time moves on. But people will fill these gaps, supposition will find a place and someone’s history is changed, even subtly. We’re all guilty of filling these gaps.  It is interesting sometimes finding out different people’s theories and seeing what evidence or lack of they are based on. It is like looking at one photograph to tell the whole story of an event without thinking of what was out of shot.

How are you feeling about taking part in CoDI 2016?

I hope people will join me to discuss, debate and share their thoughts and own stories on this. This will be my first Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas outing. I’m very excited to be part of this year’s line up to explore the idea of archives and the personal impact they have on all of us. So I’m hoping that this will encourage people to share some of those ‘skeletons in the closet’ or think about their ‘This is Your Life’ moment or obituary with a bit of humour in the mix!


Rachel’s show takes place on Thursday 18th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/112/performance/1552/book-tickets

Rachel Archive