CenSAMM: Bedford’s religious Panacea Society’s legacy leads to international examination of apocalyptic threats: climate change, violence, artificial intelligence

When Mabel Barltrop formed The Panacea Society in Albany Road in Bedford in 1919 she had no idea that she was planting the seeds of a legacy that would help us understand the existential threats of the 21st century world, but that is exactly what has happened. The last member of the reclusive community died in 2012 leaving property and assets which under the guidance of modern day trustees now houses a museum telling the fascinating Panacea story and venue for a newly created Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM).

On 29th and 30th June, the second of three international conferences will take place in what the Panacea Society believed was the original Garden of Eden in the middle of Bedford. The subject, “Climate & Apocalypse” will bring together experts in theology, anthropology, geography and social sciences to explore how creative and often misunderstood apocalyptic philosophy can make sense of, and is present in climate change debate; and how it can interpret controversy, asking what can be done.

Project Director, Simon Robinson, explained, “Climate change is arguably the most serious threat that we face. As many despair in the absence of any real leadership or political will it is little wonder that psychological effects such as eco anxiety and climate depression are becoming more commonplace. We will examine these problems with fresh and unpoliticised ways of knowing.”

Attendance to the June conference is free to the general public and will include presentations by scholars from Britain, Northern Ireland and the United States. There will also be free film nights on the subject on 27th and 28th June.

Other subjects to be tackled in the future include political extremism, Artificial Intelligence and how natural phenomena influence history.

To find out more about this conference and to reserve free seats visit www.censamm.org





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