University project takes centre stage at Edinburgh International Book Festival

A University of St Andrews project which explores the importance of ‘a sense of place’ and the impact it has on our thinking, creativity, and human relationships, took centre stage at a sell-out event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Sponsored by the University’s Scotland’s Future Series, ‘Growing Roots: A Sense of Place’ has been developed by Dr Roxani Krystalli, lecturer in the School of International Relations at St Andrews.

Originally from Greece, educated in the US, and having worked in conflict-affected areas around the world, Roxani’s project was inspired by her desire to understand how relations – including with land and place – shape what sustains life in the wake of violence and loss.

Roxani hosted ‘Creating (with) a sense of place’, a conversation between Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart and Orcadian author Amy Liptrot, who appeared by video link due to having contracted Covid just the day before. The event, which weaved together stories, poems, and songs exploring which places have shaped our identities, also featured musical accompaniment by Dave Milligan.

During the discussion, both Amy and Karine talked about how ‘place’, where we ‘come from’ and ‘sense of belonging’ have influenced their life, relationships and creativity. In both Amy and Karine’s experience, place is not just the subject matter of their creative work, but a core factor that shapes that work and the forms it takes.

Commenting on the event, Roxani said: “It has been so inspiring to work with musicians, writers, and those involved in Scotland’s vibrant creative sector to explore how important sense of place is and the impact it has on our sense of self, relationships and work. I’m very grateful to Scotland’s Future Series and to the Edinburgh International Book Festival team for the support I’ve had, as well as to colleagues and students from the University who attended the event.”

Launched in January 2022, Scotland’s Future Series is a Principal’s Office project demonstrating the University of St Andrews’ commitment to playing an active role in developing Scotland’s future by enabling staff and students to contribute to and facilitate wider discussions. It will also enable the University to take a position of ideas leadership on how to meet the challenges of the future.

The University has created a £35,000 fund to showcase the work of staff and students to support projects to enhance discussion and debate on issues pertinent to Scotland’s future. Projects can be wide-ranging, from think-pieces that could be developed into research papers at a later date, to hosting events and other public engagement projects highlighting the work of staff and students to outside audiences.