by The Norwich Radical
2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.
2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.
In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year.
We remained committed to offering a radical analysis of life and politics in Norwich and the wider Norfolk community, as well as providing an alternative to traditional media outlets in the city. In pursuit of this we have covered radical artists in Norwich, the city’s history of taking in refugees, both sides of the debate on proposals to regulate student housing, projects looking to tackle the problem of food waste while addressing poverty, the city’s response to Brexit and racialised violence, the academisation of the Hewett School, Norfolk’s mental health crisis, the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) flirtations with biomass energy both on their campus and in the city, as well as their ultimate failure, elections to Norwich City Council, machinations on Norfolk County Council and the closure of The Owl Sanctuary and its eventual re-opening.
Norwich is our home, but it has never been the sole focus of our work. We’ve always run extensive coverage of national and global politics. Our coverage of Britain’s EU referendum saw us offer space on our for both the Remain and Leave campaigns as well as its aftermath and how the left ought to respond to the result. As the Green Party held their leadership election, we offered space for each candidate to write, and published articles by successful candidates Amelia Womack, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. We also continued to offer analysis of other major political developments including the centenary of the Easter Rising, Britain’s migrant detention centres, cricket and the British empire, the ongoing housing crisis, historical and continued hostility towards migrants, the Government’s Snoopers’ charter, mental health service cuts, Sadiq Khan’s election to the London Mayoralty, air pollution, attempts build a more sustainable Britain, Welsh Assembly elections and Labour leadership election – both against and for Jeremy Corbyn. This year we also launched our first interviews with prominent political figures including Natalie Bennett, Marina Prentoulis, Hannah Clare, and Charlie Kingsbury.
We have also continued to offer unique and progressive insights into events across the globe. From the US Presidential election to the conflict in Syria and the Panama Papers leak. 2016 also saw us produce content on more countries than ever before, with articles on Colombia, the Philippines, Brazil, Norway, France, Nigeria, Zambia, Cuba, India, Canada, Italy, Iraq, Australia and the Gambia. Never content to simply cover political developments or portray people as passive recipients of world events, we’ve also actively sought out or amplified voices of people involved in resistance from Black Lives Matter to Reclaim the Power, from the divestment movement to Ende Gelande and from the Heathrow 13 to Standing Rock.
The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we have continued to be an active part within it. Many of our writers have consistently played key roles in major student campaigns, from Fossil Free to migrant solidarity and from anti-sexual violence work to the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions on the state of Israel. Our team members hold positions within student activist networks and unions including NUS, People & Planet and UEA’s Student Union.
Our contribution to shaping the student movement has included coverage of the NUS introducing a full time elected Trans students officer, the casualisation of academic teaching contracts, the largest student demonstration since 2011, ongoing debates surrounding safe spaces policies, the seemingly never ending crisis in student housing and potential solutions in the form of housing co-ops and rent strikes, attempts to boycott the National Student Survey, unemployment for black graduates, Malia Bouattia’s election to the Presidency of NUS, the Indian student movement and the marketisation of Higher Education system. We’ve also continued to offer space to candidates for positions in the annual NUS elections and UEA Students’ Union elections.
A central part of The Norwich Radical’s vision is to provide a platform for voices not heard in much of the mainstream press, as well as amplifying voices that analyse and challenge oppression. Our Perspectives section looks at the politics of liberation and intersectionality and throughout 2016 we’ve looked at issues of race, gender, sexuality and disability in a contemporary and historical context.
This year, we’ve looked at the inherent contradictions in the notion of queer visibility, living with fatigue, the way in which mental health discourses have been whitewashed, myths that need busting around asexuality, the gendered glass ceiling within academia, the role games like Pokémon GO can have in improving mental health, International Women’s Day, debates around the role of Peter Tatchell in contemporary LGBT+ campaigns and developments in legislation around non-binary identities.
Finally, our view has always been that there are a multitude of routes to political change, not only through the ballot box and social movements, but through the world of the arts too. With that in mind, we’ve sought to offer analysis of the arts and their ability to convey thoughts, ideas and ideologies. In 2016, we took on Christmas music, black erasure in art, LGBTQIA+ representation in films and gaming, football, the Norwich Radical Film Festival, the 40th anniversary of punk and the erasure of women and musicians of colour in the writing of its history, Wrestlemania, science fiction within academia, fan fiction, Deadpool and the world of comics.
Not only that, but we’ve continued and developed our series of Italian women poets in translation, as well as publishing countless original poems and artwork. We’ve issued reviews of a range of events, publications and releases, marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the two biggest moments in music – the release of Beyonce’s Lemonade and the death of David Bowie. 2016 also saw the extensive series of interviews and original pieces by contemporary musicians, with additional commentary and review: Music That Matters, including an interview with Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew, less than two weeks before his death.
The Norwich Radical is made up of our writers, readers, and allies. Without all of you, we could never have worked towards the incredible achievements of the last 12 months, and everything we’ll do in the future. The editorial team would like to extend our continuing gratitude and humility for all the support you have given us.
In 2017, we’ll continue to push for a better media. We’ll continue to fight for a better world. You can help us do that, by reading our work, sharing our work, and writing our work. We’re currently recruiting for new team members, and you can apply to join here. You can also help us to deliver War of Words this March, by donating as little as £5 to our crowdfunder.
Thank you for all of your contributions, whether in the form of writing, artwork, finances, social media support, or sharing our name around. We look forward to having you as part of The Norwich Radical family for another year.
The Norwich Radical editorial team