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Image for Tradition

Play now 45 mins


45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 02 June 2012

As Britain celebrates The Diamond Jubilee - 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's rule - the Forum takes a look at the role of tradition in the 21st Century.

How important is it? Not just in linking us to our collective past but in helping to forge the future, especially in the countries now in the midst of the Arab Spring?

And what happens in an ancient culture whose language has no way of describing the past? How does art challenge complacency by subverting tradition?

Bridget Kendall's guests are the award winning British artist Grayson Perry, anthropologist and expert on Amazonian languages Dan Everett, and the Islamic philosopher Tariq Ramadan.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: communicating the meaning of tradition through tapestry.


5 items
  • Grayson Perry

    Grayson Perry

    Grayson Perry first became a household name as a ceramicist, when he won the Turner Prize for his pots in 2003. Now he is also making tapestries which, like pottery, are a craft with long history. But look closely and you will discover that Perry’s art is anything but conventional. So what appeals to him about such traditional forms?

    Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences
  • Dan Everett

    Dan Everett

    Currently the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in the United States, Dan Everett is a linguist, best known for his years spent living in a remote part of the Amazon jungle with the Piraha people. The Piraha are a small tribe whose unusual language raises profound questions, not least about how they keep alive their traditions in the absence of creation myths or epic tales.

    Everett: Language, the Cultural Tool
  • Tariq Ramadan

    Tariq Ramadan

    Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, argues that for reform in countries like Egypt or Tunisia to succeed, it’s important not to ignore old ways of doing things but, in fact, to critically resurrect, question and develop the whole gamut of Middle Eastern traditions.

    Ramadan: The Arab Awakening

    Dan Everett says that once a year, everyone should write down the half a dozen or so things he or she believes in most, the things that are most important in their life. And also why. Then they should compare their list with someone from a completely different culture. Because only when we look at our most deeply held beliefs from a different perspective, are we able truly to see who we are and why we behave the way we do.

  • On Next Week's Programme

    We are devoting next week’s programme to a discussion of mental health: what’s the best way to tackle mental health problems, and how do approaches differ, in India, Australia and the UK. With Gwen Adshead, Vikram Patel, and Matthew Johnstone.


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