Tuesday 10 November 2020
- Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A and former Labour MP, will deliver this year’s Orwell Memorial Lecture, ‘Decolonising the Wonder House: Orwell, Empire and the Museum’.
- Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, managing trustee and honorary director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, and Thant Myint-U, a Burmese historian who established the Yangon Heritage Trust, will respond to the main lecture.
- The Orwell Memorial Lecture has been given annually since 1989 and has attracted notable speakers including Daniel Finkelstein, Kamila Shamsie, Ian Hislop, Dr Rowan Williams, Dame Hilary Mantel, Robin Cook and Ruth Davidson MSP.
- This year, the Orwell Memorial Lecture is being held exclusively online for the first time and aims to attract an international audience.
- The Orwell Foundation is asking attendees, who have the means, to donate to the Orwell Foundation’s youth strand: the lecture programme will include supporting and developing a youth response and educational resource that reflects and engages with the content and issues raised by the 2020 lecture.
The Orwell Memorial Lecture 2020
In the Orwell Memorial Lecture 2020, Tristram Hunt will explore how two literary giants – George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling – can help to frame today’s conversation around the legacies of a colonial past, and movements to decolonise museums and universities. Drawing upon the biographical details of their experiences of the British Empire – as anti-imperialist and arch-imperialist – Tristram Hunt will explore how museums can create a public space that acknowledges the colonial legacies of empire whilst remaining open to people from all backgrounds. Orwell Foundation is delighted to welcome registrations for this first online and international Orwell Lecture.
Dr Tristram Hunt is the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. Since taking up the post in 2017, Tristram has focused on support for design education in UK schools, expansion of the photography department, and encouraging debate around the museum’s global collections. Prior to joining the V&A, Tristram was MP for Stoke‐on‐Trent Central and Shadow Secretary of State for Education. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and is the author of several books.
An International Orwell Lecture
As befits the topic and the circumstances, this first ever ‘online’ Orwell Lecture is explicitly conceived as an international event bringing together audiences and experts from around the world. We are delighted that the lecture will be followed by pre-recorded responses from Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, managing trustee and honorary director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, and Thant Myint-U, a Burmese historian who established the Yangon Heritage Trust, after which there will be a public Q&A, with first priority given to special guests from the Orwell Youth Prize.
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta is an art historian, writer, curator, designer, and cultural activist. A leader of India’s heritage preservation movement, Mehta has successfully pioneered the revival and restoration of several of Mumbai’s important cultural sites. As managing trustee and honorary director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Mehta conceptualised, curated, designed, and implemented the institution’s restoration and revitalization.
Thant Myint-U is a Burmese historian, writer, former UN official, and conservationist. The author of four books, Myint-U is currently the Chairman of U Thant House, a leading education and discussion centre in Yangon, Founder and Chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust, and a Founding Partner of the Ava Advisory Group. He is also an Affiliated Scholar of the Centre for South Asian Studies at Cambridge University. In 2012, he established the Yangon Heritage Trust to protect the city’s architectural heritage and encourage new ideas in urban planning.
About the Orwell Memorial Lecture
The Orwell Memorial Lecture, given in memory of the author, essayist and journalist George Orwell, has been given annually since 1989 and has attracted notable speakers including Daniel Finkelstein, Kamila Shamsie, Dr Rowan Williams, Dame Hilary Mantel, Robin Cook and Ruth Davidson MSP. Speakers are tasked with discussing any topic ‘Orwell might have been interested in’. Originally held at the University of London, Birkbeck and the the University of Sheffield, the Orwell Memorial Lecture usually takes place each year at University College London, home of the UNESCO-registered Orwell Archive, the most comprehensive body of research material relating to the author’s life anywhere. The Orwell Foundation is based at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. This year, however, the Orwell Memorial Lecture is being held exclusively online for the first time.
Supporting the Orwell Youth Prize
We are asking attendees, who have the means, to donate to the Orwell Foundation’s youth strand. Through workshops, resources, seminars and direct feedback, our writing programmes and prize support young people from across the UK to engage with Orwell’s work and think critically and creatively about the society they are a part of. Our lecture programme will include supporting and developing a youth response and educational resource that reflects and engages with the content and issues raised by the 2020 lecture.
More information about the Orwell Youth Prize can be found on our website. Every donation helps to support our work to engage our partners, our network and the public at large.
Rosaleen Tite Ahern, 2020 OYP Winner, said:
Competitions like the Orwell Youth Prize are so important for giving us a space to fight our corner and express our creativity.”
About The Orwell Foundation
The Orwell Foundation is an independent charity which exists to continue the legacy of George Orwell. Our goal is to make that legacy accessible to everyone, and celebrate honest writing and reporting, uncover hidden lives and confront uncomfortable truths – and, in doing so, to promote Orwell’s values of integrity, decency and fidelity to truth. We hope to connect with the many different constituencies to whom Orwell and his writings are a source of inspiration, from policy-makers and politicians to students and schoolchildren, and to offer a platform for debate and discussion designed to appeal to the widest possible public audience.