The crucial element for the humanities research loop?
Joe Publics 

Research isn’t something that should be hidden away from prying eyes, writes Professor Sarah Churchwell. As chair of public understanding of the Humanities at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study she knows the value of built-in feedback from the public, and introduces three articles addressing the issue.

Humanistic research can be described in many ways, but in part it’s a habit of mind, a set of mental paradigms sometimes called critical thinking.

Thinking critically means approaching evidence sceptically, in a testing spirit – which is one of the many points of convergence between humanistic and scientific thinking. Researchers in all disciplines are constantly testing hypotheses against real-world evidence for their accuracy, and adjusting our hypotheses to fit the evidence.

The long read

Rehumanising scholarship

Dr Farhan Samanani tests himself in a very public way – by working through a commercial publisher

This isn’t about me – this is about the value of knowledge in a hurting world. But I hope readers will forgive me if I start on more personal territory.

My first book, ‘How to Live With Each Other: An Anthropologists’ Notes for Sharing a Divided World’, will come out in March 2022. At its heart, it’s a book based on my PhD research, where I spent nearly a year and a half living in the London neighbourhood of Kilburn as an ethnographer. Kilburn teems with difference, and I wanted to understand how residents made sense of this diversity, how it came to matter, and then how they found ways of connecting across meaningful differences.

The book, however, will come out with a commercial publisher. And in order to tell the sort of story that would be compelling to a wider audience, it has become about much more than my ethnographic work in Kilburn. It weaves together stories from across democratic societies, as well as from the vast record of human diversity studied by anthropologists. It combines history, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, literature and science and technology studies in as lively a way as I could manage. It was a tricky thing to write.

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The Talking Humanities blog is curated by the School of Advanced Study, University of London.