Sophie Ibbotson 18 January 2023 14.00 GMT
At the Royal Astronomical Society and Online
Who holds power over literature? Who defines its boundaries and who advances in it? Writer and translator Christopher Fort asked pointed questions in his article for Global Voices last summer after it was announced that the Silk Road Literary Festival was forced to move online. The unexpectedly public disagreement between the festival’s organising committee and Uzbekistan’s Union of Writers casts light on issues regarding reform and freedom of speech, the role of the state in cultural development, and the relationship between literature, national identity, and nation branding. Festival director Sophie Ibbotson will speak about the importance of empowering independent literary voices in authoritarian states, and the future of literature and publishing in Central Asia.
Sophie Ibbotson is Chairman of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs and Director of the Silk Road Literary Festival. She has worked in Central Asia since 2008 as an advisor to regional governments, a World Bank consultant, and as Uzbekistan’s Ambassador for Tourism. Sophie is the author of six Bradt Travel Guides, including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the forthcoming Karakalpakstan, and is researching a work of narrative non-fiction about the Amu Darya (River Oxus).