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Read, Watch and Listen

Uncovering Suburbia's Riches

A collaborative research project in Birmingham has succeeded in exposing the remarkable depth and richness of an 80-year period in the history of the city’s south-western suburbs

Exploring Dickens on Race

Read about Dickens’ shifting and conflicting perspectives on race and how they are due to be revealed in a forthcoming book

Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam

AHRC funded a research project at the British Museum that underpinned their 2012 international exhibition Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam

Glasgow Memories

Read about how a fascinating repository of unique interviews about people's working lives in the twentieth century is bringing the past to life in Glasgow

Putting Portus on the map

Read about a major international collaboration that's exploring one of the most important archaeological sites in the world

How green is the Bible?

There are few issues of such pressing political and ethical importance as the impact of human activity on the environment.

In the Footsteps of Hajar

Pilgrims also re-enact the inspiring story of Hajar, Ibrahim's wife and Isma’il's mother. Hurrying (sa‘i) seven times between two hillocks, they embody her search for water having settled in the desert with her son. Drinking from the well of Zamzam, pilgrims recall the miraculous spring God revealed to save the pair. Nevertheless, some British-Muslims highlight the discrepancies between the sa‘i of sacred history and its modern manifestation. The ritual is now performed on marble floors inside the ever-expanding Great Mosque.

© Qaisra Khan, 2010. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Community, Equality and Difference

Having performed the Makkan rites, pilgrims leave their hotels and travel several kilometres into the valley of Mina. Here they camp overnight in a vast tented city. British-Muslims describe increased opportunities for interactions, both within their own groups and with pilgrims from across the world. They relate sublime and everyday moments when social divisions are dissolved and the idea of a united Muslim ummah (community) emerges. Yet, at other times, differences of class, gender, ethnicity and denomination also remain apparent.

© Simon Martin, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

Seeking Forgiveness: The Day of 'Arafat

The zenith of the Hajj occurs on the plain of ‘Arafat beyond Mina. Here Adam met again with Eve after the Fall, and many pilgrims turn inwards to repent on Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy) where Muhammad gave his farewell sermon. As shown here, pilgrims stand in congregation (wuquf), fervently supplicating from noon until sunset. In their shroud-like ihrams, British-Muslims say that this also rehearses the Day of Judgement. Hajj is indeed a journey from sinfulness to purification.

© Simon Martin, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

Being Tested: The Stoning of the Pillars

Having collected pebbles at Muzdalifa overnight, pilgrims stone three jamarat (pillars) back at Mina. This cathartic ritual commemorates Ibrahim's physical actions in rejecting Satan's attempts to test him. In the 1970s a jamarat bridge was constructed to convey pilgrims to the pillars, a site notorious for stampedes. In 2004 the pillars were replaced by huge walls. However, as this photograph shows, following 300 deaths in 2006, an entirely new bridge and multi-storey system was introduced. British-Muslims report feeling much safer.

© Simon Martin Photography, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

From Sacrifice to Charity: Eid al-Adha

Together with the shaving/cutting of pilgrims' hair, it is the qurbani or animal sacrifice that seals Hajj. Most restrictions associated with ihram now come to an end. ‘Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) is celebrated simultaneously in Makkah and across the Muslim world. It commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son, Isma‘il, in obedience to God. Today charities encourage British-Muslims to donate their qurbani offering to the poor world-wide. Here, an Islamic Relief shop in Bradford, promotes its campaign.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Souvenirs and Shared Blessings

Travelling material objects share the baraka (blessings) of the Holy Places. Perhaps the most significant of these is water from the well of Zamzam, which stands near the Ka’ba. Airlines currently allow each pilgrim to return home with up to 10 litres often in large, mass-produced plastic bottles like the one here at a mosque in Bury. Visitors may be invited to stand facing Makkah and drink the Zamzam from special cups, while listening to stories about its curative properties.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Being a Hajji: Changing Public Significance

Returning pilgrims bear the new, honorific titles of ‘Hajji’ (men) and ‘Hajja’ (women). Traditionally expected to be more pious and enlightened, they have often been given a special respect in Muslim communities. This shop-front in East London illustrates how such values still find expression in the urban landscape. However, Hajj-going has become rather commonplace in Britain and the public significance of performing the pilgrimage is declining. Nevertheless, a pilgrim's lifestyle can still be a matter of scrutiny in close-knit communities.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2014. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Spiritual Efficacy and the Desire to Return

For Hajjis like Bilal, photographed here at home in Leeds wearing clothes and scent from the Holy Places, and standing in front of a picture of the Great Mosque, Hajj is profoundly spiritually uplifting and potentially life-changing. Some pilgrims do manage to take their experiences forward with them as they settle back into everyday routines. But this is not easy to sustain. Thus British-Muslims today tend to be unanimous in their desire to return to Makkah and Madinah one day.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2011. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Austria - Vienna

Vienna. XXth International Conference of the Red Cross. Vote during the last plenary session. From 27 September to 9 October 1965.

1965-10 © Fédération / SCHIKOLA, Gustav

South Africa

The Boer War 1899-1902. Group Portrait.

© ICRC archives (ARR)

Spain - Barcelona

Spanish civil war, 1936-1939. Barcelona. People queuing in front of the delegation to fill in requests.

© ICRC

Spain - Madrid

Spanish civil war, 1936-1939. Madrid. The Red Cross Central Hospital.

1937 © CR Espagne

Nigeria - Udo

Biafra conflict. Udo, Swedish Red Cross distribution center. Before a food distribution.

© ICRC / VATERLAUS, Max

Afghanistan - Khyber Pass

Khyber Pass. Convoy of the ICRC from Peshawar to Jalalabad. Convoy of 22 trucks carrying 14 tons of flour each.

1994-05-19 © ICRC / GASSMANN, Thierry

Richard Neave and the Manchester method

Mr Richard Neave developed the combination technique for facial depiction, called the Manchester method, which incorporated the anatomical and anthropometrical methods. This method includes attention to head and neck muscle structure along with the use of tissue depth markers as guides. Image used with permission from Richard Neave and the University of Manchester.

Technological advances – Digital facial depiction from skeletal remains (Richard III)

This series of images showcases the digital 3D method of facial depiction from human remains developed by Professor Caroline Wilkinson. This technique follows the Manchester method and employs digital sculpting software and a haptic interface. The image shows the face of King Richard III, built from computed tomography (CT) data of the skeletal remains. © Professor Caroline Wilkinson (University of Dundee) and the Richard III Society.

My Name is Angeline

M. Lannois, “Dermographisme chez des épileptiques atteints d’helminthiase intestinale”, 1901. Look carefully: the woman pictured has her name scratched into her chest and back. The writing was probably done by her physician. Angeline Donadieu was an epileptic patient at the turn of the twentieth century. She is exemplifying a particular condition known as dermographism – skin that retains the imprint of marks traced onto it. Yet the image speaks most powerfully of the relation between medical and personal identity. © Wellcome Library, London. Creative Commons CC-BY.

Seizures in Performance

D. Younger, The Magnetic and Botanic Family Physician, 1887. Employing cataleptics or epileptics to perform particular medical roles shaded into wider performance in the later nineteenth century. Although this image shows a purportedly “scientific” experiment using mesmerism on a cataleptic subject it appears far more like the stage show of a magician. Regarding seizures as material for popular performance shifted them from the realm of medicine into the public sphere and made them subject to industries of entertainment. © Wellcome Library, London. Creative Commons CC-BY.

Picturing Seizures 1

Paul Richer, Études cliniques sur l'hystéro-épilepsie ou grande hystérie, 1881. This, and the illustration following, depict attempts by medical artists to provide an illustrative account of an epileptic seizure. The physical, high-speed movements of the body are difficult to capture in a static image. Nevertheless, the artist has managed to give a visually striking picture of the stresses under which the human body contorts. The stark line drawing makes clear how such images are an intertwining of medical and artistic representation. © Wellcome Library, London. Creative Commons CC-BY.

Picturing Seizures 2

Paul Richer, Études cliniques sur l'hystéro-épilepsie ou grande hystérie, 1881. Richer’s illustrations (in the previous image and here) also defamiliarize our assumptions. The figures are both athletic and balletic but also monstrously deformed and racked with pain. These images depict the wonder as well as the abjection of the material human condition. © Wellcome Library, London. Creative Commons CC-BY.

Digital Variations

Gus Cummins, “04”, 2009. Gus Cummins is one among a group of artists with first-hand experience of seizures who use their personal experience to inform their creative practice. Cummins’s artwork is a representation of his body’s movements during a seizure, as tracked by video telemetry. It is strikingly reminiscent of the drawings of Richer; capturing the similar experience of epilepsy across the centuries. © Gus Cummins. Courtesy of the artist. www.ictal.net. Cummins.angus@gmail.com

Body and Mind

Susan Aldworth, “Elisabeth”, 2012, monotype. Drawing inspiration from new medical imaging technologies, some contemporary artists have deepened our understanding of the relation between neurology, the body, and the experience of illness by imagining how seizures function in all three arenas. The artist Susan Aldworth merges images of nerve action in the brain with the shapes of the human skeletal form and the female reproductive system to suggest the extensive anxieties that often accompany neurological disease. © Susan Aldworth. Image courtesy of the artist and GV Art gallery, London.

The Influence of Technology

Richard Davis, “Tears, Pain and a Troubled Mind…The Definition of Epilepsy”, 2014. Richard Davis is another artist with epilepsy who uses his art both as a form of therapy and as an activity to promote a greater public understanding of seizures and their effects. In paintings like this one, which re-imagines the images produced by brain activity mapping technologies, Davis pictures the seizing brain as a science-fictional labyrinth that disorients and threatens the creativity of the epileptic adventurer. © Richard Davis. Theartistlife@tampabay.rr.com. Courtesy of the artist and Epilepsy Foundation. 

Institutional Fear

James Leahy, “Fear of it All”, 2011. James Leahy’s self-portrait, a winner in a photographic competition titled “Epilepsy Without Words”, overlays a photographic image of himself with the CT scan of his brain and with various medical documents to give a palimpsest that represents his own pathologized experience of epilepsy and its treatment. Leahy’s is one striking example of the kind of vibrant and creative self-expression in images that is being encouraged within contemporary healthcare. © International Bureau for Epilepsy. Reproduced with kind permission of the IBE.

National Healthcare deconstructed

Saber, “Healthcare Reform Flag”, 2010. Certain responses to the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure conditions within institutional healthcare settings have been compellingly forthright. The Los Angeles graffiti artist Saber found himself the centre of media attention when he defaced an American flag to articulate his own frustration and disgust at the poor medical care and support for epileptics in America, of which he has personal experience. Saber’s flag has no direct representation of the epileptic experience; but the parallels with much more radical anti-American sentiment, usually expressed in flag burning, gives it extraordinary and controversial power. © Saber. Courtesy of the artist. 

Therapeutic Commercialism

Karen Brown, Jeanine Gourong, Helen Hankins, Jonathan Klinger & Louise Wadsworth, “British Wildlife (Deer)”, 2015. Medicine has always functioned as commerce as well as science (or art). ARTHOUSE Meath provides an unusual kind of commercial healthcare venture. Their residential artists, all patients with epilepsy, produce and sell the products of their artistic labour to fund future services: a new form of medicine that is both entrepreneurial and an ethics of care. © ARTHOUSE Meath group collaboration. Courtesy of ARTHOUSE Meath.

Ceramic Ware Market

Ceramic vessels and hand-painted ornaments are produced in two villages close to Mapusa. Cheap handmade clay ornaments, clay piggy banks (or elephants, chickens and other creatures) and festive items are popular. The unfired clay drinking cups once ubiquitous on India’s railways have now been replaced by plastic – though there is a move to reinstate them. During festivals the ceramic stalls stock thousands of brightly painted bowls which are filled with oil for burning at devotional shrines.

Chilli Stall

5pm. Spice stall. Chillis are a basic ingredient in Goan cuisine: traditionally, masala spices are ground and mixed daily. Although renowned for its spice stalls, most spices in the market are imported from neighbouring Karnataka. Agriculture is in decline in Goa with land left untended or sold for development. Today, work in the Gulf is more lucrative than farming and Shankar, who begins work when he finishes school, does not see working on his family stall as a life-long career.