Discrimination, lack of participation, inequal opportunities: How can we enable a life in dignity and with equal rights for everyone in the future? This year's Silbersalz Science and Media Festival explored different dimensions of inequality. We spoke to some experts on site.
What does it mean to be affected by inequality? How can we as a global community confront discrimination, injustice and group-related misanthropy? What can we learn from the past? For five days the Silbersalz festival in Halle (Saale), initiated by the Robert Bosch Foundation and the Documentary Campus, explored ways into a more just future. Its thematic focus: inequality.
"We are a generation of changemakers. We are driven by social injustice and purpose", says Aya Chebbi, a pan-African activist, sitting on stage in the Dome of Halle. Her statement puts the festival's topic in a nutshell. For five days the international science and media festival Silbersalz brought science and media topics to life for everyone: ordinary people met experts, scientists met artists, young people met YouTubers. Together they explored the importance of science today and tomorrow. Highlighting the intersection of science and society the festival provided a stage for the dimensions of science communication. With various discussions, films and walk-in installations the festival turned Halle's old town into a vibrating space for sharing ideas and developing approaches that address all forms of inequality and exclusion.
Impressions of the festival
Is looking down on each other part of human nature? Hanna Haaslathi's interactive installation "Captured" creates virtual doppelgangers of its audience and places them in the middle of a fictional crowd. The avatars start creating a life of their own - becoming victims or offenders.
How can we make decisions to create a better world? Talking to Luisa Seeling Turkish author Ece Temelkuran explains her views on social polarization, the narratives of populism and the chances of a global solidary movement.
Is this what wanting more looks like? The audience is captured by the visuals of Max Cooper's DJ set "Yearning for the Infinite". The British DJ creates an audiovisual answer to the human desire for infinity.
Conference programme at the "Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina" (German National Academy of Sciences). Aya Chebbi shares some insights into her work as an activist during her keynote "The Art of Reaching Diverse Audiences".
How can we deal with social injustice that's a direct result of economic structures? Nico Paech, Waldemar Zeiler and Annemarie Botzki discuss the role of global supply chains, the chances of employer participation and what economic growth might look like in the future during the panel "Rethinking Economy".
Once an idea, now an award-winning movie: Three years ago the idea to create the documentary "Expedition Arktis" arose at the science and media festival Silbersalz, two years ago director Philipp Grieß (left) pitched the concept during the festival, now the film was awarded as "Best Science Documentary".
This is what being together feels like: During the opening of this year's festival the drums of the street art company "Les Commandos Percu" reminded everyone in the audience that all humans share the same rhythm.
New perspectives can result from this exchange. Therefore, both the festival's conference programme in the Leopoldina and the panels "Silbersalz talks!" focussed on how different forms of inequality and discrimination interact. One of the main questions: How can a more just future look like and how can we find ways to achieve it? Talking about the intersections of social injustice and power structures, Nico Paech, post-growth economist and professor at the University of Siegen, asked for a more conscientious way of dealing with excessive economic growth: "Supply chains that reach twice around the world can not be controlled", he said during the panel "Rethinking Economy and Growth". "We need to find more decent ways to manage this kind of growth. But in a sustainable way and not simply to calm our conscience."
The former greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis shared some more radical views. Introducing his post-capitalist science fiction novel "Into another now" he questioned the focus of political systems: „The homo oeconomicus is at the centre of every mainstream political ideology. But he is based on self-interest – and that is not how the world should work."
“We can change the system for good.”
The festival showed how a global effort for a more just tomorrow might look like. One main thought: Overcoming unequal opportunities and a lack of participation that excludes certain groups is key. During the panel "At the intersection of technological change and social injustice" Nakeema Damali Stefflbauer, founder of the NGO "Frauenloop" shared her views on how to avoid technology from becoming an exclusive good for a small group of people. "I’m optimistic about changing the way technology works right now. Everyone was learning in the early 2000s when I got involved in tec. That is still the way I see technological change. There’s still a chance of changing the system for good."
Raising awareness for different narratives of social injustice and its various dimensions as well as discovering and displaying intersections: With this topic the Silbersalz festival reached an audience of about 12.000 people. They explored the topics attending workshops for young people, discovering impressive art installations in a former shopping mall or joining audiovisual live events on the festival ground.