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The Forum
20 April
Alaa Al Aswany, Baroness Susan Greenfield and Faisal Devji


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In this programme we find out how our brain and our identity is under threat from twenty first century life, dip into the Islamic rivers of history to understand the ideology behind Al Qaeda, and explore the rich sensual memories of childhood in 20th century Cairo.

Meet the Guests


We review a short story by best selling Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany, published under the collection title Friendly Fire by the American University in Cairo. Al Aswany is a literary sensation in the Arabic world since his 2002 novel The Yacoubian Building - a huge success that was made into the biggest budget Egyptian film ever. We discuss the use of place as a main character in Al Aswany's work and his depiction of modern day Egypt from the rise of Islamic militancy to the gay scene of Cairo.

Baroness Susan Greenfield is professor of physiology at Oxford University and the Director of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, whose primary research is dedicated to investigating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. We discuss her latest work The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century which explains why the brain is at the core of identity and asks what will happen to this identity if we allow some of the more invasive and pervasive technologies of modern living to ravish our minds.

And we talk to Faisal Devji, an associate professor of history at The New School for Social Research in New York and author of Landscapes of the Jihad, published by Cornell University Press. A world expert on the globalization of Islam, Devji argues that both the modern Islamic militants and the Mahatma rely upon the caliphate to re-imagine the world, and that a comparison of their ideas can teach us a great deal.

60 second idea to change the World

This time, historian Faisal Devji steps into the hot seat to present his 60 second idea.

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