From 25-29 October, the world’s leading authors, artists, thinkers and performers will converge on the 14th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival to share ideas and stories under the banner of this year’s theme, ‘Origins’.
The theme – drawn from the Hindu philosophy ‘Sangkan Paraning Dumadi’ – speaks of our eternal connection to where we have come from, and to where we will ultimately return.
“Last year’s theme of ‘Tat Tvam Asi’, or ‘I am you, you are me’, was a powerful exploration of our connectedness, to each other, as individuals,” explains Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe.
“At a time of global unrest and political turmoil, ‘Origins’ invites us to consider the biggest picture – to contemplate not just our connections from person to person, but as a collective humanity extending across people, the planet and periods of time”.
Across the Festival’s five-day program, the theme will unfold the powerful movements which have influenced and continue to shape the world – from the political to the technological, environmental to spiritual – and their cyclical manifestations throughout our existence. It will challenge audiences to consider the origins of the elements that shape us, the things we carry with us through life, and the things that draw us back.
“By cultivating a universal perspective and shifting away from the cult of the individual, we instil in our Festival audiences the possibility of truly affirmative action,” continued DeNeefe. “If we are no longer constrained by our individual perspectives, what are our responsibilities, and what is within our power to achieve together?”
As ever, the Festival will celebrate the role literature and the arts play in understanding our place in the world. Platforms for reflection, connection and collective action, literary festivals occupy a unique space in contemporary discourse.
“The modern equivalent to the enlightenment-era coffeehouse, literary festivals are shaking off their reputations as sleepy marketplaces; transforming themselves into cross-cultural events where people who disagree can encounter one another and safely explore complex and controversial ideas – together,” reflected LA Review of Books correspondent Justin Lancy after attending last year’s event.
In bringing together 160+ speakers from 23 countries in 2016, the UWRF has well and truly evolved into a global hub of ideas, experiences and empowerment for both individuals and its diverse community of attendees.
“In Indonesia, the world’s greatest archipelagic nation, almost everyone is constantly asked, Dari mana? Where are you from?” concluded DeNeefe. “At a time when the severity of global events can make us feel disempowered, this year’s Festival drives us to return to our shared humanity and to ask ourselves, ‘what can we do to break the cycles of history?’”