by Jonathan Lee
I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.
My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.
If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a Gypsy in your mind’s eye you probably see someone with bangles and gold hoop earrings, floral patterned clothing, long hair, and dark flashing eyes. They may or may not have a tambourine, and may or may not be wearing a turban with a little gem in the centre holding it up. Maybe you see a fortune teller, or a travelling metalsmith? Perhaps a musician? If you are European, more likely you also see a beggar, a thief, a criminal.Continue Reading
by Scott McLaughlan
Content warning: mentions Islamophobia, racism, paedophilia, sexual abuse, fascism
The sentencing in May this year of Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon (stage name ‘Tommy Robinson’) to 13 months for contempt of court has caused quite a reaction from his fellows on the far right. On Saturday 9th June, an estimated 15,000 people turned out for a mass rally in London in support of Yaxley-Lennon, Trump and ‘free speech’. The sinister focal point of the rally was to link rape and child sexual exploitation with migration and Islam.
by Justin Reynolds
Writing in the midst of Europe’s interwar turbulence, the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci observed that ‘the old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.’ Though contemporary parallels with Gramsci’s troubled world can be overplayed, these transitional times have spawned, if not monsters, an impressive array of fabulous beasts.
Donald Trump is President of the United States. Self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders almost won the Democrat nomination. Silvio Berlusconi is once again on the verge of becoming the leading powerbroker in Italian politics. Jeremy Corbyn emerged from the deepest political wilderness to lead the Labour Party.
If, as the Brexit negotiations intensify, Theresa May’s vestigial authority finally fades away, the Government may have little option but to take a chance with a charismatic leader able to hold it together through sheer force of personality. And it is no longer absurd to suggest that, just as Labour members insisted on Corbyn, the Tories might turn to his mirror-image, Jacob Rees-Mogg.Continue Reading
by Lewis Jarrad
On the 9th-10th December, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) put on its 2017 Winter Conference in Liverpool. Taking place less than a month after their national demonstration, which advocated for free education and universal living grants funded by taxing the rich, the conference was a chance for student activists across the UK to strategise and discuss where we can go next in the fight for a free and democratic education system. Campuses represented included Liverpool, Manchester, UCL, UAL, KCL, Warwick, Sheffield, Abertay, Oxford and Cambridge. As a first year UCL student who was involved in the national demo, I went along to learn more about NCAFC and how I could get more involved in the campaign.
Content warning: mentions white nationalism, racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.
By Gary Olson
My take on Steve Bannon’s recent firing is at odds with the celebratory tone I detect from others, especially those claiming it’s a victory for decent people. It was nothing of the sort, and Bannon wasn’t banished for any of the reasons we’ve read about in mainstream media accounts.Continue Reading
by Alex Valente
Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the general mess that is 2016.
And so the world has suddenly changed, again, seemingly even louder than before. For a lot of people who claim to be interested in following politics, nationally or internationally, the events of the past month can feel like a shock. We’ve all trying to find someone to blame, someone to accuse, someone to stand in front of us as we look in a mirror, and global media has been having a field-day of think-pieces on the issue. But quite frankly, who cares?
We fucked up. We’ve been doing so for a long time. We’ve been doing so with every time we didn’t speak up, stand up, stand in the way of neoliberalism, aggressive capitalism, individualism and their opening the gates to full-on, fully backed racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so many other horrors that not even patriarchy-mythologised Pandora could be blamed for them all.Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
In the post-imperialist Western world, liberal society is becoming ever more self-aware of social and cultural sensitivities, most evidently in the influence of the arts as a vehicle for perceptions of race, gender, sexuality and culture. Cultural appropriation is a topic hotly debated, and one where the divide between appropriation and appreciation can sometimes be uncertain. This ambiguity and subsequent argument is usually tied to power relationships, dichotomy in stereotypes (e.g. black hairstyles being perceived differently on white heads) and most often, the struggle for the appropriated culture to control its own identity.
The struggle for Roma to self-determine their own public identity — that being which is perceived by those outside of the Romany community — has historically been dominated by stereotypes of the ‘Gypsy other’. These myths, biases and often outright lies likely stem from the Middle Ages with arrival of the Roma in Europe. In an age of relative racial homogeneity, the Roma appeared as a foreign, outsider race whose dark countenance was associated with evil in a time of church hegemony and bigotry. The associations forged with the Roma during their early arrival were compounded by subsequent centuries of persecution and hatred, often based on conceptions of ‘the Gypsy other’ rather than interactions.Continue Reading