| 22 Jun 2024
BBC to explore how our Identity is being changed by globalisation

MUMBAI: As we become more connected and mobile than ever, BBC World News and BBC World Service examine how our individual identities are changing. A month-long series of content looks at how the movement of people and the increasing exchange of ideas and information are changing who we are and how we live.

Throughout April, BBC World News, BBC World Service and will host a range of programmes, short videos, live events and audience interactions –on-air, online, and on social media – to share people’s experiences and intimate accounts of everyday life. The season will unravel a complex picture of human life where factors like the technology we use, our choice of music, our looks, language and gender are being influenced by this changing world. Content will be created in different languages and shared across the World Service’s 28 language services, and available at

Using social media in different languages and the hashtag #bbcidentity, we will invite global audiences throughout the season to share their experiences and send in answers to the question “How is your identity changing?” By joining in they will become part of a worldwide conversation on whether we are changing as the world changes around us.

On Monday 18th April in London, the BBC World Service will offer a rare opportunity for our audience to experience the emotions and feelings around this topic, by bringing Identity alive through the performance of literature, music and dance theatre.

As part of the season, the BBC will reveal the findings of a specially commissioned global poll on what matters most about identity and whether globally we feel increasingly like global citizens.

World Service Group director Francesca Unsworth says: “The old certainties of gender, family, community and culture are all being questioned as never before. At a time when we can connect with each other further and faster, the season looks at different topics – from smart phones to smart hairstyles – and how globalisation is giving us all more choices but also raising more questions about identity.”

The programmes and reports come from all corners of the world including Bangladesh, Cyprus, Dubai, India, Iraq, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and the US. Highlights from the Identity season include:

World on the Move (1/2 April)                

BBC World Service, BBC World News and      

People are moving as never before around the world for a range of reasons. ‘World on the Move’ is a multiplatform project across TV, radio, online and social media which captures glimpses into the lives of passengers passing through Dubai Airport, the world’s busiest international hub, which connects 260 destinations. Featuring interviews with a range of passengers from every corner of the globe, ‘World on the Move’ gives an insight into how diverse we are and how wide-ranging our reasons for travelling are.

Default World (2/3 April)                              

BBC World Service

This one-hour documentary looks at how the ethics, philosophies and lifestyles of the tech elite influence the way we live all over the world and asks what choice the rest of us have in the matter. As internet technology is changing our lives irrevocably, David Baker travels to Silicon Valley, California, to find out what makes the internet pioneers tick. 

Identity Season at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival (3 April)     

BBC World Service

On Sunday 3rd April between 14:00 and 16:00 BST, the BBC World Service will broadcast a special live programme looking at how ideas on Identity are being discussed at the Oxford Literary Festival. Presenters Anu Anand, Jamie Coomarasamy and Jo Fidgen will be hosting interviews and debates featuring international authors and thinkers, performers and festival-goers.

The Salon (from 8/9 April)            

BBC World Service, BBC World News and

How we look – right down to our hairstyles - are being reshaped and remodelled by global ideas of fashion. But it is also an intimate decision which reflects who that woman is, or who she wishes to be. ‘The Salon’ takes you inside personal stories which very few people ever hear – stories of identity and womanhood revealed in the intimate, frank and sometimes secret conversations between a hairdresser and their client. From Beirut to London, Tokyo to Johannesburg, step inside ‘The Salon’ for insights into race, sexuality, gender, beauty, class and money around the world.

Alongside this one-hour, radio programme for BBC World Service, a series of first-person videos by the women we have met will feature on BBC World News and will be shared on BBC News Online, as well as on the BBC News YouTube & Facebook pages and as part of the BBC Three Daily Drop playlist.

Trading Hair (13 April)  

BBC World Service, BBC World News and

Thousands of tons of hair are sold in India every year with hundreds of women queuing up at the Hindu temple in Tirumala to have their locks cut off by the temple barbers. The global business is lucrative and growing rapidly with South Africa emerging as a key market. In this half-hour radio programme Justine Lang embarks on a journey of discovery to find out why women in India sacrifice their natural hair and why an increasing number of South African women want to buy it.

Forgotten Girls of Dhaka (23 April)

BBC World Service, BBC World News and

If you are poor and faced with limited choices, what kind of life will you lead compared to others? In the globalized world of opportunity, many of us are discovering and shaping our identities through new possibilities, while others less fortunate are having their identities shaped by circumstances out of their control. Farhana Haider enters the world of a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh to meet a group of teenage girls who were married and then abandoned by their husbands before they even reached 16 years old. Are their identities now fixed for the rest of their lives? What chances do they have to define who they are? How does the tight-knit slum community hinder or help shape the girls' futures? For the BBC World Service Identity season, Farhana hears them explain in their own words who they are and what they think the future holds.

Transgender: Back to Jamaica        

BBC World News

Steffan and Romario are two transgender friends who take a life-changing journey from Britain to reveal their new identities to their families in Jamaica, where they both grew up. Jamaica is one of the most transphobic places in the world. Despite the potential risk to their safety and without knowing what reaction they’ll get from their relatives, the friends are determined to be open about who they are.

Intelligence Squared Debate:  Society Must Recognise Trans People’s Gender Identities

BBC World News

Chaired by Simon Longstaff from the St James Ethics Centre in front of an audience in Sydney, Australia. Arguing for the motion are Peter Hyndal, Director of Transformative Solutions – an organisation providing gender-related policy advice and training – and Andrea James – a transgender advocate, writer, film producer and director based in Los Angeles. Arguing against the motion are John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy, St Andrew’s University, Scotland and Bronwyn Winter, Associate Professor, University of Sydney.

The Why Factor: Dolly, Dylan, or Daft Punk (23 April)

BBC World Service

In a one-hour special programme for ‘The Why Factor’ series Gemma Cairney investigates the origins of our taste in music and what influences it. The programme asks what makes fans so passionate about the music they enjoy and why some music “travels” beyond borders and around the world while other music stays popular in its place of origin.

Beyond Binary (23 April)                                                                            

BBC World Service

In communities around the globe, intersex, genderqueer and bi-gender people are rejecting the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ and attempting to re-define gender identity. Beyond Binary, a one hour documentary for BBC World Service, asks if being ‘gender-neutral’ breaks the last identity taboo, and explores the challenges it creates for the law, society and conventional concepts about the very nature of gender.

Artsnight: Black Culture with George The Poet                         

BBC World News

In this episode of ‘Artsnight,’ George the Poet explores the meaning of black culture in four spoken word chapters and asks what black culture is. Racheal Ofori opens up some black female stereotypes, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Dennis Bovell look back at the beginnings of dub poetry, Professor Paul Gilroy explains some of the histories of black diasporas, and Akala likens rap to the works of Shakespeare.