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Play now 45 mins


45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 17 September 2011

Activism: how to make things happen

Some say you can only do it by being unreasonable - that easygoing people do nothing for progress.

Only those who refuse to put up with life as it’s lived push humanity forward. Our guests this week are all unreasonable.

Poet and academic John Kinsella, uses his poetry to fight for his vegan, anarchist, pacifist beliefs.

Architectural activist Marie Aquilino reminds us that it’s not earthquakes which kill, but buildings. She is passionate about giving victims of natural disasters long-life homes and infrastructure.

And Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang calls on all of us to be activist citizen-economists, and so confront the myths he says we’ve been peddled about the way the world economy works.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel.


4 items
  • Marie Aquilino

    Marie Aquilino

    Marie Aquilino is professor of architectural history at the Ecole Spéciale de l’Architecture in Paris, and a specialist in contemporary urban redevelopment. She has edited a book, Beyond Shelter, about the architect’s role in disaster prevention and sustainable recovery. She is currently part of an international working group on the reconstruction of Haiti.

  • John Kinsella

    John Kinsella

    John Kinsella describes himself as an activist-poet, a pacifist, a vegan and an anarchist. He’s won numerous awards for his poetry, and has published over 30 books. He is currently a Poetry Fellow at Cambridge University. To bring about change he advocates using language as a key tool disrupt control and to empower individuals. He calls it linguistic disobedience.

  • Ha-Joon Chang

    Ha-Joon Chang

    Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang wants us to confront the myths he says we’ve been peddled about the way the world economy works. In his latest book he’s set out an argument for changing the way 21st century capitalism operates. A key part of this requires all of us to become active economic citizens.


    Marie Aquilino wants every person living in an area prone to natural disasters to have a wearable shelter: ready-to-wear architecture. That way people can be empowered to help themselves after a disaster, instead of having to wait for outside aid. These self-help pyjamas would be water, flame, and insect-proof, and flexible enough to walk in. They could even be transformed into a basic building, by zipping them together and fitting them with poles to make them more rigid.


    Next week.. we’re in Berlin at the Berlin International Literature festival. What makes the German capital a unique cultural success story?


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