Centre for the Contemporary #Renaissance

The UK is commonly described as being in the midst of a number of crises. From the political fall out around Brexit; to the climate emergency; to the ethical questions around artificial intelligence; to concerns around the mental health of children and young people…contemporary Britain has a lot to worry about.

The Mental Health Collective is experimenting with the hypothesis that all these intersecting crises are, in fact, derivative of one major overarching failure: The failure of the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinking has constructed a particular set of relationships between knowledge and power, which are reflected in the assumptions which underlie most Western institutions. However, there are many other ways of making sense of the relationships between knowledge and power. Enlightenment thinking is not the only mode.

We are studying the responses to the failure of the Enlightenment by making observations about the Contemporary #Renaissance which has sprung up in its wake.

The Contemporary #Renaissance is characterised by graceful resolve. That is, getting somewhere by being present to where we are now, and navigating our way with the power of love. Like the original renaissance, it often uses practices which bring our heads, hearts and guts together – and is a ‘mixed medium’ phenomenon.

The purpose of our work in this arena is to make public life in Britain more kind, bright and fun. The Centre for the Contemporary #Renaissance is led by Dr Elsa Strathern, an avatar of Dr Amy Pollard.

Strathern, E (Forthcoming) Life Goes On: The Death of the Enlightenment and the Birth of the Contemporary #Renaissance @ElsaStrathern
Pollard, A (2009) Power in Doubt: Aid, Effectiveness and Harmonisation amongst donors in Indonesia. PhD dissertation, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.