December 1, 2020

Reinterpreting History in an Evolving World

Event Series: Free Speech at the Crossroads: International Dialogues

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Nationalism, populism, and resurgent racism have combined in a toxic political and cultural stew around the world to challenge established patterns of civic dialogue and interrupt the natural evolution of democracy. In response, monuments are toppling, schools and buildings are being renamed, and historical memory itself has come under review and regulation in some countries.

Public players from the United Kingdom, Hungary, Singapore, and Charlottesville, Virginia, joined together for a virtual transatlantic dialogue about the reexamination of reputations and settling of scores that may have serious consequences for free speech and international understanding in the years ahead. The conversation was moderated by Professor Michael Scott, senior dean and Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, the University of Oxford, and Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University.

This event was sponsored by the Free Speech Project (Georgetown University), The Future of the Humanities Project (Georgetown University) and the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford).


Nirmal Ghosh

Nirmal Ghosh

Nirmal Ghosh has been U.S. bureau chief for the Straits Times, Singapore’s leading English-language newspaper, since 2016. An award-winning journalist, since 1994 he has been a foreign correspondent covering political and environmental issues across Asia. He was a 2015 Jefferson Fellow and a 2016 presidential election reporting fellow at the East-West Center. Ghosh is also a trustee of the Corbett Foundation, an environmental organization based in India. 

Gail Leftwich Kitch

Gail Leftwich Kitch

Gail Leftwich Kitch, a consultant on civic engagement based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is CEO of Miranda Consulting. After practicing law in Washington, DC, and Boston, Kitch had a career as a nonprofit administrator, serving most recently as the executive vice president of communications and finance at the Voter Participation Center, a nonpartisan voting rights organization. She currently serves on the boards of the National Conference on Citizenship and the Charlottesville Opera.

Baroness Usha Prashar

Baroness Usha Prashar

Baroness Usha Prashar of Runnymede has been a cross-bench (independent) member of the British House of Lords since 1999. Born in Kenya, she has been deeply involved in human rights and race relations issues throughout her career, and she is now a senior consultant to Seriously Inclusive, which helps organizations develop effective policies and practices to promote diversity and inclusion. Baroness Prashar is also honorary president of the National Literacy Trust in the United Kingdom. 

Professor Peter Rona

Professor Peter Róna

Professor Peter Róna is a Fellow and director of the Las Casas Institute’s economics program at the University of Oxford. Róna specializes in the philosophical foundations of the social sciences, particularly economics. Previously, he was the president of Schroders, and he later served as the CEO of the First Hungary Fund, from which he retired in 2003. In 2010 he was appointed to the Supervisory Board of the Central Bank of Hungary.

Professor Michael Scott

Professor Michael Scott

Professor Michael Scott (moderator) is Senior Dean, Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, the University of Oxford, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a Member of the Las Casas Institute. He also serves as senior adviser to the president at Georgetown University. Scott was on the Editorial Board which relaunched Critical Survey from Oxford University Press. Scott previously served as the pro vice chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University. 

Sandy Ungar

Sanford J. Ungar

Sanford J. Ungar (moderator), president emeritus of Goucher College, is director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, which documents challenges to free expression in education, government, and civil society in the United States. Director of the Voice of America under President Bill Clinton, he was dean of the American University School of Communication after a distinguished career in journalism. Ungar is a former co-host of All Things Considered on NPR.