The World in Scotland, and Scotland in the World

Photo: Luke Rajczuk

Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought, Traquair House, August 27 – 28

Beyond Borders Scotland has launched the programme for the seventh annual International Festival of Literature and Thought, held at Traquair House on August 27 – 28. The programme features a host of local and international writers, artists, politicians, and diplomats, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, historians and writers Alison Weir and Peter Frankopan, and emerging talents such as Isabel Buchanan.

Photo: Luke Rajczuk
Photo: Luke Rajczuk

Mark Muller Stuart, Executive-Director of Beyond Borders said; “Now more than ever, Scotland holds enormous potential to make a significant contribution in the realm of both domestic and international affairs. In this year’s programme of panel discussions, visual and performing arts pieces, walks, and cycle rides, we are proud to harness the cultural heritage of Scotland and the Scottish Borders and to harness Scotland’s cultural heritage as a means to encourage local, international, and intercultural exchange.”

BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet will chair a discussion between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura as they explore the increasing role played by women in peace-making and politics. They will also discuss Scotland’s support of initiatives such as a recent partnership between the Scottish Government and the United Nations, which brought ten members of the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board to Scotland.

Former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed will also take to the stage in a discussion on the important role to be played by small nations – and small islands – in the field of global environmental diplomacy. Elsewhere in the programme, former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson tells the story of how she was outed as an agent, and veteran diplomat Sir Kieran Prendergast recounts the personal impact within the UN of Blair’s decision to go to war.

Photo: Luke Rajczuk
Photo: Luke Rajczuk

Exploring other international themes, Zimbabwean lawyer David Coltart and author Petina Gappah discuss their experiences of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe; President Clinton’s former advisor Tim Phillips examines Cuba- US relations; and the British Museum’s Jonathan Tubb, biographer of buildings James Crawford, Roger Michel from the Institute for Digital Archaeology explore the protection of cultural heritage.

On a more literary and historical note, author Alison Weir gives a talk on Mary, Queen of Scots and the murder of Lord Darnley – in the 450th Anniversary year of Mary, Queen of Scots’ visit to Traquair House – Jerry Brotton explains the connection between Elizabethan England and the Islamic World; Peter Frankopan tells tales of the Silk Roads; and William Dalrymple and Isabel Buchanan recount stories of their travels and experiences in Pakistan, India, and China.

Allan Little, BBC Special Correspondent, who returns to the Festival again this year, describes his experience of the event: “[You’re] surrounded by people from all walks of life, but who have something in common, and they bring with them, from all the four corners of the earth, their own wisdom.”

Former BBC chief news correspondent Kate Adie, who took part in a panel with Allan Little and Ruth Davidson in 2015, added:

“It’s like a rather wonderful party, but you are talking about serious matters, interesting matters”.

The full Beyond Borders Scotland Summer Events Programme and Box Office is available online at


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