Image credit: Emily Graham

Not since Joe McCarthy’s America in the 1950’s, has the term ‘witch hunt’ been so common. Then it was communists. Now, enabled and amplified by social media, any individual or group outwith a prevailing orthodoxy is vulnerable. A potential target or a victim. While those in power – political figures, challenged or exposed through legitimate scrutiny – use the term to claim persecution and injustice.

The consequences today are less extreme, of course. Here at least no one is being tortured and burned at the stake. Not literally anyway. But they are not trivial: Alienation, fear, stress, panic, mental illness, loss of livelihood, even suicide.

It is a phenomenon that is literal and metaphorical. Evoking religion and the supernatural, the psychic and the psychological. Simultaneously mediaeval and modern. By looking back, we can consider if we have changed as much as we think we have.

Roddy Murray
Head of Visual Arts & Literature at An Lanntair

Thanks to Creative Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for support with this year’s programme.