The Babel myth suggests that when humans cannot understand each other, this will inevitably lead to conflict. Yet is this really true? In this talk, Dr Keith Kahn-Harris will suggest that not understanding languages can actually be a tool for peace-making. More than that, without the pressure to understand, we can properly appreciate the wonder and joy of language. In his book The Babel Message: A Love Letter to Language, he shows how a seemingly insignificant piece of paper – the multilingual warning message inside a Kinder Surprise Egg – can be the starting point for a linguistic adventure. In this talk he will take the adventure beyond the book and invite the audience to join him on it.
Dr Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer, based in London. He is a senior lecturer at Leo Baeck College, an associate lecturer and honorary fellow at Birkbeck College, and the project director of the European Jewish Research Archive at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. The author of seven books, editor of several collections and many articles and reviews, his career bridges academia and multiple other worlds.