ZAD DU CARNET: A BASTION OF RADICALISM ON THE LOIRE ESTUARY

by Yali Banton-Heath

Graffitied in swirly red French handwriting, on the wide concrete track that leads through the camp, is the motto: ‘Nous sommes toutes des enfantes du Carnet!’: we are all children of the Carnet. The Carnet is a stretch of land on the Loire Estuary, next to the Saint-Nazaire seaport and downstream of France’s sixth largest city, Nantes. The 110 hectare area which incorporates 51 hectares of wetland and is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered and on the brink of local extinction, is under threat of development. With a nationwide shift towards supporting green energy projects, and the Saint-Nazaire seaport earmarked as a prime location for offshore wind farms, the Carnet has been chosen as the site for a new ‘green energy industrial park. 

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POP-UP GALLERY: MARIA LUISA AZZINI

by Carmina Masoliver

I recently moved to Forest Hill, and amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants, I found a pop-up gallery displaying the work of local artist Maria Luisa Azzini. Normally found in Greenwich Market, Azzini is originally from  Florence, Italy, though she has been based in London for nearly twenty years now. 

In the present times, the visual arts is just one of the many industries that needs support, with arguably very few industries not heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s possible to buy Azzini’s work from as little as £45 for a print (£55 framed), to a few hundred pounds for an original painting. Each print is unique as Azzini touches them up with small strokes of silver and gold.

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ADAT YESHUA FOODBANK: ON THE FRONT LINE OF PANDEMIC POVERTY

By Sean Meleady

The Jewish community in Norwich has a rich history which goes back centuries. As the Covid-19 pandemic writes a new chapter in the history of the city, one Synagogue on Essex Street has helped set up a food bank in an area sharply divided by wealth disparity.

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HEAVEN IS A PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE SLOAN STODDARD – REVIEW

by Ananya WilsonBhattacharya

‘I do not take photos/I give them/as I always give/in love’, the protagonist of Christine Sloan Stoddard’s poetry/photography collection Heaven is a Photograph declares, a characteristically bold admission of vulnerability. These lines, taken from the poem ‘Unrequited Pixels’, evoke an overarching theme of the collection: the emotional intensity of the protagonist’s relationship with photography. Charting the protagonist’s journey, from a childhood as the daughter of a photographer to becoming a photographer herself, Stoddard’s brief and beautiful collection explores the power of both photography and photographer – through a deft and deeply meta combination of verse and photography itself.

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SYSTEMIC RACISM IN THE UK CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: AN UNDENIABLE REALITY

police UK
by Alexandra Jarvis of IAS UK

The brutal murder of George Floyd in America this May sparked revived global conversations on the presence of racism in criminal justice structures around the world today. Despite this movement and its rallying cry across the world that Black lives matter, the UK’s systemic racism is entrenched and stubborn. Just last week in Britain, dance group Diversity’s performance on popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent attracted criticism after daring to depict police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement in their powerful performance. As activists work in the aftermath of the revolutionary protests and petition to push forward change, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in Britain has launched an investigation into racism within English and Welsh police forces. Through this, it aims to assess whether Black, Asian, and other minority-ethnic groups are discriminated against by police officers and established practices.

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SHELTERED, BUT NOT FROM MUCH: CLASS-BASED BARRIERS TO STUDENT HOUSING

ziggurat house uea
by Kasper Hassett

This month, many returning university students are settling into house-shares in the private rental sector, as the first-year intake prepares to move into halls of residence shortly after. However, for students whose families live in poverty, there are a number of barriers to accessing rental homes, which have worsened this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has also constructed new obstacles to prevent poorer students from relying on campus accommodation.

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RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND VIOLENCE IN THE TRUMP ERA

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions of gun violence, child sex abuse

Look closely at a Trump rally and you will see banners and signs with cryptic slogans like ’Q’ or ‘WWG1WGA.’ These are the signs of a growing far right pro-Trump cult-like conspiracy theory that has slid into the mainstream and is growing rapidly. 

QAnon is complex, but the foundational belief of the movement is that there is a cabal of liberal elite satanic Democrats, bankers, and Hollywood celebrities that are involved in a global child sex trafficking trade. Supposedly, information is released in periodic cryptic posts on the far-right chat board 8chan/8kun by ‘Q’. Dedicated followers claim that Q is a high up intelligence official in the administration, and that Trump was recruited by military intelligence to stop the liberal ‘deep state’ cannibal paedophiles. In their eyes, Trump is idolised as an almost god-like figure who will destroy his enemies and save American society and indeed, the world. QAnon has an almost apocalyptic desire to destroy the existing, corrupt world order to usher in ‘The Great Awakening.’ QAnon followers think they are preparing for this Trumpian counter revolution. 

The spread of QAnon

The current instability in America combined with a pandemic has created fertile ground for conspiracy theories to grow and flourish. QAnon has reached out into a political climate of fear and has come out in strong opposition to mask-wearing policies and lent into anti-vax conspiracies. But QAnon in its earliest iterations was the 2016’s ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy which falsely claimed that the Clintons were running a child sex trafficking scheme in a pizza restaurant. In 2019 Jeffery Epstein died under doubtful circumstances whilst awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges, subsequently, QAnon used these real cases of sex abuse as a kind of gateway into the movement. Their #SaveTheChildren tag seems like an uncontroversial statement, but this softened and appealing front for QAnon has been extremely successful in expanding the conspiracy, especially in reaching women. 

QAnon no longer just exists in the insular, male dominated dark corners of the internet…

QAnon has been historically associated with right wing fringe groups. But there now exists an entire QAnon media ecosystem, with enormous amounts of video content, memes, and more, all designed to spark the interest of potential recruits, then draw them into QAnon’s alternate reality. For example, algorithms will match holistic health people with the anti-vax movement, which will lead on to content on how the vaccine is a method of social control by Bill Gates. QAnon no longer just exists in the insular, male dominated dark corners of the internet, it is on pink coloured Instagram text squares, mum influencer Instagram stories, and then suddenly you are down the rabbit hole.

QAnon and violence 

QAnon is increasingly active offline too, and has now been flagged as a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI. Last year, a woman in Colorado was involved in a scheme with QAnon supporters to carry out an armed kidnapping raid to take her child back, whom she had lost custody of, believing wrongly the foster carers were satanic paedophiles. There have been several other examples where QAnon has certifiably spilled over into violence.

the President is sending a clear message that far right violence is an act of patriotic service, playing into QAnon’s underlying appeal of patriotic crusaders

QAnon merges with many existing conspiracies and far right groups. In the Trump era, conspiracy-motivated violence has echoed a surge in far-right violence. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, police killed Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, which sparked protests against police violence. A pro-Trump militia which 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was a part of called ‘Kenosha Guard’ countered these protests with a call to take up arms and then paraded the streets holding guns. In a video it can be heard that the police said that they appreciated them – essentially deputising them. Kyle later shot and killed 2 people on the street, wounding several others. In St Louis amid a peaceful BLM march, the White and wealthy McCloskey couple came out of their house aiming their guns at the protestors. Portrayed by right wing media as heroes exercising their ‘God given right’, they were given the platform to speak at the RNC last month

White violence in America has always been linked with maintaining conservative ideas of morality, but now the President is sending a clear message that far right violence is an act of patriotic service, playing into QAnon’s underlying appeal of patriotic crusaders fighting enemies of of the world. Trump has given the green light to far right vigilantism throughout his whole term. In the last few months he has endorsed QAnon, called BLM protestors ‘terrorists’ and called for supporters and anti-maskers to ‘liberate Michigan’ and other states. 

Trump affirms QAnon 

Trump and the Republican party have undoubtedly been exploiting the energy of QAnon for their benefit. In a recent press conference, Trump said when questioned about QAnon:  “we’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country, and when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow“; not only legitimising QAnon but echoing their belief in a world destroying liberal order that is responsible for all of society’s ills. Trump has also amplified QAnon-promoting Twitter accounts in at least 185 instances, and there have been at least 70 Republican candidates who have run for Congress this cycle who have expressed support for QAnon. It is likely that we will see a continuing growth of QAnon and slide into the mainstream. 

QAnon and the future of the Right

Unsurprisingly, many people in America feel divided and uneasy about the future of the country and feel a sense of injustice about the way things currently lie. The QAnon belief system, where truth and lies are blurred, offers a simple answer. As election day looms and in the weeks after, we should expect to see increased urgency and calls for action within QAnon, as well as in the Trump support base as a whole. QAnon adherents may see it as their duty to take action into their own hands to fight the perceived enemy. For people deep into QAnon and linked far right extremist groups, violence is necessary to save the world. A conspiracy theory doesn’t have to be real for it to change the world. It is sometimes difficult to discern where QAnon starts and ends, but it will continue to grow and evolve in tandem with the growth of right wing populism, climates of fear, and lack of online content moderation. I fear it is making the right stronger as it both unifies and expands far right ideology.

Featured image credit: Becker1999 (Flickr)


The Norwich Radical is non-profit and run by volunteers. All funds raised help cover the maintenance costs of our website, as well as contributing towards future projects and events. Please consider making a small contribution to fund a better media future.  

BLAME GAME: A GOVERNMENT SCARED OF YOUNG PEOPLE

climate strike birmingham 2019
by Howard Green

Since Monday, people living in England are no longer allowed to meet in groups of more than six. Although this is not hugely practical given that many employees and students are being required to return to work and study, these new restrictions show that our incompetent Government is prepared to occasionally act in service of public health rather than into the hands of the free market. But it’s very apparent that these restrictions are aimed at minimising social gatherings amongst young people, who have unjustly been the subject of blame for the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

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FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE HOME FRONT – THE CAMPAIGNS TO PROTECT NORFOLK’S ENVIRONMENT

By Sean Meleady

Norfolk people are rightly proud of the beautiful countryside and unique habitats which attract many tourists to the county. However, Norfolk’s environment and ecological sustainability are threatened by two planned developments located just outside Norwich: the Norwich Western Link road and a proposed new housing development near Thorpe St Andrew which threatens three local woodlands.

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RESISTANCE IN BUDAPEST: STUDENTS DEFY LATEST MOVE IN VIKTOR ORBÁN’S CULTURE WAR

free szfe hungary title
by Bernard Rorke

On the Wednesday evening of the 2nd of September, in a narrow street in Budapest’s eighth district, a large crowd gathered in solidarity with the students who have staged an occupation of Hungary’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE). The students had sealed the entrances to the building with red and white tape in protest against the latest power grab by the far-right government of Victor Orbán. 

From the first-floor balconies, students stood silently in yellow face masks with clenched fists, while below, leading figures from Hungary’s cultural and literary scene recited apposite verses from the country’s rich reserve of defiant, liberty-loving poetry. The students closed the event with a folk song and the crowd joined in defiant chants of ‘Szabad Ország, Szabad Egyetem! (Free Country, Free University!)’.  

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DOES ANYONE ELSE HYPERSALIVATE?: QUEERING RABIES

by Molly Ellen Pearson

cw: mentions of ableism, homophobia

The creature is grinding its face against the glass door, the reptilian gape of its fangs no more than a few inches from the camera on the other side of it. Salivating, tongue fully extruded, its jaws open and close convulsively. 

After perhaps thirty seconds, the creature stops what it is doing, raises its head and looks directly into the lens. Its eyes, suffused with hate, are strangely vacant. In a sudden rush of aggression it claws at the door, which audibly rattles. This lasts only moments before it drops back to all fours and resumes its frenzied drooling and chewing. The video ends with a freeze frame of that moment of eye contact: that intense, fixated stare.

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CRIMINALISING TRESPASS, PART ONE: SEDENTARIST IDEOLOGIES AND THE OUTLAWING OF TRAVELLING LIVES

by Tesni Clare

Something strange is happening. Certain ways of life are slowly, quietly being enclosed, along with the land on which those lives depend. 

Last year Priti Patel opened a consultation on ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’ ; in short, the government hopes to criminalise the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales. The consultation is now closed and responses are being reviewed. The decision came as no surprise, considering Patel’s draconian desire for control over minority ways of life, along with the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto commitment to ‘make intentional trespass a criminal offence’.

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LOVE, HONOUR AND FOREPLAY – LAUREN KAYE’S I’M ALL IN, FIVE YEARS ON

By Carmina Masoliver

August saw the five-year anniversary of Lauren Kaye’s ‘I’m All In’, a poetry collection described as a ‘seductive collection of romantic and sensual poems that speak on the inevitable episodes of love, sex and relationships’. The occasion was marked on social media – at a time where artists are forced to be more resourceful than ever when the stage is taken away. As Kaye outlines in the introduction, her poetry ‘is written much how I speak’, and it is best to have seen her live or see live videos so you can then hear her voice as you read coming through the pages.

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TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS, UEA MUST DIVEST FROM BARCLAYS

By Henry Webb

Higher Education institutions have the power to decide whether the fossil fuel industry lives or dies. The dominant players in the energy sector may seem unstoppable. After all, as long as the oil keeps flowing, they’ll find someone to buy it. Their lobbyists will make sure of that. But these behemoths require resources beyond those of just the raw coal, oil, and gas that we are so dependent on – they need capital. Without investment banks to finance everything from pipelines to offshore rigs, the costly infrastructure needed for fossil fuel extraction just wouldn’t exist.

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THE NIGHT THE REBECAS RODE OUT: LESSONS FROM WELSH RURAL RADICALS

rebeca riots nat archive 1
by Jonathan Lee

On the edge of my hometown stands a boulder about shoulder high, hewn from the mountainside, with the word “Rebeca” inscribed on its surface. It commemorates the night of the 6th September 1843, when over a hundred working-class men on horseback rode out, in full drag, and destroyed the most grievous symbol of class oppression in rural Wales – the toll gate.

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HISTORY, SPOKEN – THE VALUE OF DIALECT

By Kasper Hassett

In my earliest years, my great-grandmother used to sit with me in her bungalow, a low-roofed gloomy building with carpets like moss, to tell me I was the ‘best boy in the wewd’. I believed her, of course – she made fantastic cheese on toast and gave me ice pops (‘lolly ices’ to her) out of love. She was family. I took her words as law; I would recite everything I heard her say back to my mother when I was dropped off at our flat. But, rather than approval, I was met with correction – not of the message, but the delivery.

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NORWICH SCHOOL’S CULTURE OF RACISM

By Sean Meleady

Content warning: racism, examples of racist abuse

Norwich School has been caught up in a publicity storm this summer after a letter was sent to the school Governors from 264 former pupils and parents in June detailing numerous cases of racist behaviour by pupils and staff at the selective private school.

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BLACK ROYALTY IMAGERY IN ACTIVISM IS NOT REVOLUTIONARY – LET’S LOOK BEYOND

by Lisa Insansa Woods

A misleading image presents itself within certain areas of Black power discourse. It is the gilded image of the Black royal or the ancient African empire, manifesting within popular culture as a vision to aspire to. The recent release of Beyoncé’s Black Is King brings the subject back to the forefront of the public domain, presenting a glorification of Black royalty in the matrix of the Black liberation struggle.

This idolisation does not fit a revolutionary paradigm, but, rather, strives for “advancement” in line with a white supremacist world. It honours the western concept of civilisation as a system that oppresses others: there would be no monarchy without subjugation, no “great” empire without violence and theft.

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RUPERT READ IS NOT THE PEER THE GREEN PARTY NEEDS

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By Lewis Martin

Content warning: mentions transphobia

As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.

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WHY NORWICH NEEDS A GREEN NEW DEAL

By Olivia Hanks

Between 2013 and 2019, an era of ‘austerity’, most of us noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of our public spaces and infrastructure – existing roads and pavements not maintained, school buildings getting shabbier, public facilities closing. During that period, Norfolk County Council oversaw at least £725m of funded infrastructure projects. Incredibly, more than £650m of this was for building or widening roads.

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LAST PICKINGS AND LOST GRADES FOR BTEC STUDENTS

unequal ofqual education
by Kasper Hassett

After the government’s U-turn on GCSE and A-level moderation, widespread celebration has broken out among student and teaching communities alike. But, drowned out by the cheering, a yet unsolved problem remains: the injustice and uncertainty for those taking BTECs, who have been left behind in the race to secure places at chosen further and higher education institutions. 

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LEBANON’S PRIME MINISTER HAS RESIGNED, WHEN WILL OURS?

downing street 10 door
by Howard Green

The date is the 10th of August 2020. The capital of Lebanon, Beirut, has witnessed a great tragedy. A warehouse filled with ammonium nitrate had exploded 6 days prior leaving much of the city’s port destroyed. With over 220 confirmed deaths, hundreds more missing, 6000 injured, 300,000 homeless and around $15 Billion worth of property damage, the prime minister was set to make a statement. It was his resignation.

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NORWICH CITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME TRIAL

By Sean Meleady

Norwich City Council has backed calls for the government to support a pilot for Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would trial providing a monthly income to all residents of the city, following a recent debate at City Hall. City councillors argued that all residents should receive this fixed monthly amount regardless of employment status, wealth and marital status.

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THE BARGING BUDDHI AND OTHER POEMS – SUNITA THIND – REVIEW

By Carmina Masoliver

Content warning: brief references to sexual assault

The Barging Buddhi and Other Poems takes us on a journey from human expectations that are created within a set culture, to more cosmic climbs, from which we are brought back to earth with the fragility of life, to then be connected to a wider sense of nature. Sunita Thind’s poetry is rich, sensual and visual. Although her numerous questions throughout the collection hint at self-doubt and uncertainty, she shows a strong sense of voice that is not easily contained, like the ‘pyrotechnical parrots’ she describes, how humans ‘clip their wings to capture the fury of their rainbow constellations / humans devouring them like black holes / sequestered in monster iron cages.’ The collection is strongest when assertive, using imperatives: ‘delete the tears’, ‘stain me’, maroon me.’

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PREDICTED GRADES – THE POSTCODE LOTTERY

By Kasper Hassett

Last week, young people across Scotland reached the end of years of schooling and were presented with their final grades. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these results were based not on a summer exam series, but on predicted grades from teachers and subsequent moderation by examining bodies. As many as a quarter of grades were lowered, hitting working-class pupils in poorer regions and schools the hardest. Further south, A level and GCSE students are still awaiting similarly-calculated results, due for release on the 13th and 20th of August respectively. But, with individual pupils’ futures at the mercy of wildly varying school averages, the most disadvantaged students are facing even more barriers to higher education.

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CHINA TIGHTENS ITS GRIP ON HONG KONG, AND BEYOND

by Gunnar Eigener

‘The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.’

Chapter 1, Article 5 of the Hong Kong Basic Law

The recent introduction of the new Security Law in Hong Kong by the Chinese government has sent waves throughout the city, and beyond. The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is exactly the type of security legislation it sounds like. The law views subversion of central authority, secession from the mainland and collusion with foreign entities as criminal actions; furthermore, all applications of the law are open to interpretation. In line with communist tradition, the management of non-governmental organisations and media outlets will be stricter. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave her blessing to the legislation, and encouraged the international community to accept its legitimacy, but reactions have varied.

The tit-for-tat diplomacy that threatens to break out into a full-blown trade war between China and the United States continues to flare up regularly with the US, who is no longer justifying special trade and travel privileges for Hong Kong. In a gesture of solidarity with the people, Australia suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and the UK reassured that it would not turn its back on its commitments to Hong Kongers. The UN has issued an oral rebuke, and The EU has urged China to reconsider the law. 

Two significant escape routes for the people of Hong Kong have presented themselves since. One is through the United Kingdom, where Boris Johnson announced that those in Hong Kong with a British (Overseas) Passport could gain British citizenship, with potentially up to 3 million who could claim. The second is through Taiwan, which has set up an office to help Hong Kongers resettle  and adapt to a new life in their own borders. There has also been increased internet searches for properties abroad, particularly in the UK, Australia and Canada. 

China is a friend that the UK and indeed most other economies, cannot afford to lose.

China has reacted strongly, however, accusing the UK of interfering in its former colony and accusing Taiwan independence activists of colluding with Hong Kong independence activists. Both countries face risk, as Taiwan lives with the constant threat of military action hanging over its head while the UK may well depend heavily on economic and financial relationships with China in the future. With its lure of cheap labour, as well as Beijing’s vast global investment funds, China is a friend that the UK and indeed most other economies, cannot afford to lose.

But alas, the UK has shown itself woefully incapable of influencing Chinese policy; only the US really has that power, but Donald Trump sways between disdain for Chinese business practises and admiration for the Chinese leader. Should Joe Biden win the upcoming US presidential election in November, the US might change its stance. Biden is likely to prove more amenable to creating strong trade bonds and dispensing with tit-for-tat diplomacy.

China is accustomed to acting with impunity when it comes to violations of human rights.

The new security law in Hong Kong is the latest in a string of assertive action against political dissent, and hardly comes as a surprise. China is accustomed to acting with impunity when it comes to violations of human rights. Despite outrage over the Uyghur ‘re-education camps‘, the international community has done next to nothing about it. Despite Chinese agents kidnapping dual-nationals and putting them on trial in China, the world has stood still. Even in regards to the land grabs by China in the South Seas and on the borders with India and Nepal, the global community says a lot and does nothing. It is little wonder that China is now unafraid to pursue aggressive state actions. 

China is not going to change. The belief from Western authorities that China can be slowly tempted to change its ways is not realistic. At the same time, pointing more missiles at the country is hardly likely to encourage them to lower their guard. China has never shown any intentions of softening its position on any of its issues, such as developing bases in the South China Sea, closing so-called re-education camps or giving independence to Tibet. Ever more media savvy, the reactions to any topic in which the country or party is criticised are always measured and strong-worded. China will continue to defend itself from public criticism even if that means cutting off its nose to spite its face. Suppression of the population through the Sesame Credit system, restriction on internet access, and threats of re-education discourage many from social and public criticism and, while the rest of the world turns a blind eye, China will push ahead. 

The situation in Hong Kong has drawn condemnation from various countries mainly because of its global financial status, but the biggest problem remains mainland China’s ability to mass-produce cheap goods; goods which Western economies are relying upon to reboot their domestic economies in the wake of Covid-19.

Most countries have incoherent policies when it comes to China. Condemning its actions while continuing to seek trade deals or accept Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Most countries have allowed their supply chains to become interconnected with China to the extent that any significant action poses an immediate and serious economic risk. The Security Law is a warning shot across the bows; China intends to bring what it considers its own back into the fold and increase its political and economic reach; and that likely extends beyond Hong Kong.


The Norwich Radical is non-profit and run by volunteers. All funds raised help cover the maintenance costs of our website, as well as contributing towards future projects and events. Please consider making a small contribution to fund a better media future.

BLACK REBELLION: CRUSHING THE MYTH OF THE ‘DOCILE SLAVE’

amistad ship revolt 1
by Lisa Insansa Woods

The structure of white supremacy feeds off the narrative of the ‘docile slave.’ Painting Black people in history as submissive beings upholds the white conscience; it tapes over white people’s historical and present reliance on oppression for their mental stability and superiority, by suggesting that Black people were willingly inferior. When, in reality, Black people have been rebelling with might since their capture.

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BRAVE NEW WORLD IS (STILL) HERE

By Molly Ellen Pearson

CW: sexual assault, rape

David Wiener’s TV adaptation of Huxley’s classic dystopia launched on Sky One and Peacock on July 15th 2020.

Set in New London – in a society where class is enforced by genetic engineering and hypnopaedic indoctrination, the use of the euphoric drug soma is universal, public orgies are wholesome fun and ‘mother’ is a swear word – Brave New World is a novel with many themes. One of them is misogyny and the mechanisms by which it is expressed and perpetuated. Consequently, the portrayal of the novel’s central female character, Lenina Crowne, and her relationship with John the Savage (the emotional core of the story) are huge contributing factors to the success or failure of any adaptation. Wiener faces the challenge of depicting a society he describes as ‘hugely problematic’ without condoning it, which raises questions about how the problematic aspects of the novel could, or even should be, adapted.

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SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY: NORFOLK AGAINST HOLIDAY HUNGER

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By Sean Meleady

While Marcus Rashford has been making headlines with the campaign that led to a government u-turn on free meals vouchers, community groups are working hard to make sure that free meals vouchers are provided to families that need them during every school holiday, not just while the Coronavirus pandemic is in the news.   

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THE UK PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

hmp altcourse sue adair
by Michael Noone for IAS UK

In March 2018, the then Justice Secretary David Guake delivered a speech on the topic of prison reform. He kicked off proceedings by detailing his perception of the prison system and its modus operandi. Describing it as three-fold, Guake explained the aims as follows:

First, protection of the public – prison protects the public from the most dangerous and violent individuals. Second, punishment – prison deprives offenders of their liberty and certain freedoms enjoyed by the rest of society and acts as a deterrent. It is not the only sanction available, but it is an important one. And third, rehabilitation – prison provides offenders with the opportunity to reflect on, and take responsibility for, their crimes and prepare them for a law-abiding life when they are released.

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GLINNER’S GONE – WHAT NEXT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TRANSPHOBIA?

By Lewis Martin

Content warning: discussion of transphobia, genitalia

In June, the news broke that Graham Linehan, former comedy writer turned full time transphobe, was finally removed from twitter for his continued attacks on the trans* community. Whilst it is positive that twitter is finally taking the action that the trans* community have long been asking for, this should have happened years ago, when Linehan started doxing people who dared challenge him.

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WHY IS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT PUSHING TO ENTER THE US UNDER THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT?

un meeting room

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: racism, violence, police brutality, suicide

I’ll admit, the title of this article is posed in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner, but the underlying premise points to two concurring factors: the hypocrisy and northern hemisphere-bias underpinning global governance, and the distinct shift towards authoritarianism that we are currently seeing in Trump’s America; the latter possibly justifying intervention under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. The Trump administration’s current bent towards authoritarianism is not mere hyperbole, nor the incendiary Twitter-ranting of an orange mad man, but a dark and extremely worrying leap towards the kind of repression that characterizes Assad’s Syria, or the recent kidnappings in Iraq, wherein those protesting against the regime are bundled into unmarked cars and whisked away into the night. Continue Reading

FROM SCHALKE TO NEWCASTLE: ARE FOOTBALL CLUBS BECOMING COVERS FOR CORRUPTION?

By Howard Green

Professional football has been hyper-commercialised by every means available. Billion pound deals between private entities to secure TV rights, ridiculous sponsorship schemes that see clubs partner with the most strange or dangerous of companies, and ever-rising ticket prices turning the sport into an occasional daytime activity for the well-off rather than dedicated working-class fans. But there are still instances of defiance, of fans and players organising and speaking out against the commercial elements of the sport.

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NORFOLK LOVES SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE, BUT WHERE’S THE COMMITMENT TO ANTI-RACISM?

sound system coghlan

by Lisa Insansa Woods

Norfolk’s music, gig and free party scene is a vibrant stream of colour, with bright red, gold and green gushes moving through the illuminous pool. Reggae, dub, jungle, drum n bass and techno can easily be discovered blaring from a stack of speakers in a venue or elusive field in and around Norwich. Norfolk loves sound system culture, but many of those same people who dance to this music are quiet in the struggle against racism.

“Babylon A Fall,” they shout. But what does that actually mean? Continue Reading

ISIS BRIDE SHAMIMA BEGUM IS BRITISH WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT

shamima begum bbc

By Jonathan Lee

Another day, another outrage. This time it’s about one-time ‘ISIS bride’ Shamima Begum, a 20-year-old girl from Bethnal Green who has finally had her right to return home recognised, after leaving the UK in 2014 to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Begum had her citizenship stripped from her in February 2019 by the Home Office. This was declared legal on account of her being a Bangladeshi dual national, meaning she would not be made stateless. However, when she was asked by the BBC, she said she did not have a Bangladeshi passport and had never been to the country. Regardless of the decision against her, her son was a British citizen and should have been allowed to return. Perhaps if he had been allowed to he might have survived. As it was he died of pneumonia in a refugee camp in Northern Syria, a month after his mother had her citizenship revoked. You have to wonder if this all would have happened had she been white?Continue Reading

COVID AND EXPLOITATION; GARMENT INDUSTRY WORKERS ARE FIGHTING A DOUBLE-PANDEMIC

by Lotty Clare

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the worst parts of the global system of racial capitalism, and has put into stark focus the number one priority of corporations: wealth accumulation above all else. One of the most exploitative facets of this economic regime is the garment industry.

With governments poised to bail out massive corporations for their losses during this pandemic, who will bail out textile workers in the Global South, where so much of the labour that has generated enormous corporate profits has been outsourced to?

An abrupt halt in demand due to mass store closures has led to brands cancelling orders at short notice and in some cases refusing to pay for orders that suppliers are already manufacturing. CEO of New Look, Nigel Oddy, sent a letter to its suppliers stating that they would not be paying for any costs “in connection with any cancelled orders….this is a matter of survival for New Look.” For big brand executives, the pandemic is a concern purely in terms of profit loss, but for millions of garment workers, delay in payment of wages is quite literally  a matter of survival. 

Labour and human rights abuses in these supply chains occur mostly in the Global South, conveniently hidden from Western consumers. 

The global garment industry relies on a combination of low wages, rapid production lines, and precarious job security, with its buyer-driven supply chains designed in a way which allows corporations to avoid accountability at the production end. The costs of labour and production are outsourced, and brands then enforce extremely unrealistic production targets. As a result, suppliers are left with little alternative but to exploit their workers in order to operate. Labour and human rights abuses in these supply chains occur mostly in the Global South, conveniently hidden from Western consumers. 

The vast majority of the 50 million workers engaged in garment production in the Global South are women of colour. Many of these women are engaged in informal employment, have little or no savings, and are consequently living in a state of income poverty in countries which offer limited if any social security. Furthermore, most small factory suppliers lack the cash reserves or access to credit to pay workers and cushion financial shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In such a context, millions of workers and their families in the Global South face an imminent risk of losing their livelihoods.

In Burma, the pandemic is even being used as a cover to sack unionised garment factory workers. Employees at the Huabo Times factory – a supplier for brands including Zara and Primark – have been resisting ongoing exploitation and abuse of their labour rights carried out by the factory. Nwe Ni Linn, president of the workers’ union there, explained that only 3 days after submitting a union registration form, 107 workers were dismissed, most of whom were union members or leaders. This was done under the guise of COVID-19 physical distancing measures but a matter of days after this took place, 200 workers were then transferred from another factory to replace the workforce lost. 

employees often work 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week and earn around $3 a day,

This is not an isolated incident. In the Yangon-based Jin Sen factory, workers took part in a sit-down strike after the factory reportedly sent spies into union meetings; 13 union leaders were fired shortly after. Sit-down strikes have also been used in other factories to avoid COVID-19 laws that ban demonstration gatherings. In one of Primark’s Yangon supplier factories – Amber Stone factory – workers have been wearing red headbands to protest a similar case of union busting, in which union leaders had allegedly been intimidated and beaten up by company thugs. At the Rui-Ning factory, 298 union members were fired in early May, and Myan Mode factory recently fired 520 of its unionised workers.

These employees often work 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week and earn around $3 a day, however very little has been done in response to workers’ demands for better treatment.

In India too, similar stories are emerging. On the 9th of July more than 300 garment workers organised a demonstration in Erode district of Tamil Nadu to protest non-payment of wages and lack of health and safety measures in factories. In Bangladesh, labour activists have raised the alarm about pregnant textile workers being illegally fired, employees who asked for PPE losing their jobs, and union members being purged under the cover of pandemic response measures. 

Garment factory workers’ strike in Myanmar. Image credit: Food Not Bombs Myanmar Facebook page (Wai Yan Phyoe Moe)

The pandemic has not only revealed the exploitation of workers in the garment industry of the Global South, but closer to home too. In the UK, warehouse workers for ASOS have raised objections and campaigned with GMB trade union over a lack of social distancing and hygiene measures in the workplace. Headlines over the past week have also exposed the exploitation of workers in Boohoo supplier factories in Leicester. Wages of £2–3 an hour have been reported as being commonplace in Leicester factories that supply Boohoo, and employees have said that they were forced to continue work despite being unwell with the coronavirus.

Brands are pushing hundreds of thousands of working class, migrant, and Black and Brown workers into increasingly desperate situations. Yet this is taking place at the same time that these very same brands are releasing statements standing against racism; promising to ‘listen to learn’. But when will they actually listen to workers resisting exploitation in their own factories?

When working conditions are revealed, brands tend to spout empty words about their commitment to fairness and transparency. Sometimes brands will respond to criticism by cutting ties to the individual suppliers in an attempt to shed the blame. But this is not about a few bad factories treating their workers poorly, this is a systemic problem which needs a transformative systemic solution.

The pandemic is making it increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that struggles for labour rights are global struggles. Despite international campaigns, reforms have not done enough to improve working conditions and have done little to change fatally unequal power relations that exist in the garment industry.  Successful change will mean real international solidarity between workers movements in the Global South and Global North.


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EMPTY GESTURES AND EXPENDABLE LIVES

nhs clap revolt london

by Kasper Hassett

Across all of the contradictory actions taken and advice given by the UK government in response to COVID-19, there is one recurring theme: emptiness. From clapping for a financially dire NHS, to confusing slogans, the government is keen to portray the national response to this crisis as a unified effort with the consensus of the public, healthcare staff and politicians. It seems a sense of morale is being treated as the antidote, rather than investing in real measures to protect the public from ill health. These meaningless gestures in place of action are costing lives, particularly of the working classes.Continue Reading

MUTUAL AID IN ACTION: NORWICH’S COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO COVID

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By Sean Meleady

In Norwich, as in many other parts of the country, mutual aid groups set up in local communities through Facebook and Whatsapp have been helping people through the Covid-19 crisis in Norwich. These groups have been particularly important for the elderly, vulnerable, single parents and those asked to shield themselves by staying at home.

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‘JUST A NOTHING’: ASEXUAL ERASURE IN ADAPTATIONS OF THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY

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By Molly Ellen Pearson

Few novels with openly queer protagonists are as enduringly loved, or have achieved such acclaim, as Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley.

Tom Ripley is a charming, Machiavellian antihero whose talents include ‘forging signatures… and impersonating practically anybody’, and whose unreciprocated worship of Dickie Greenleaf, the prodigal son of a New York shipping tycoon, leads him to kill Dickie and assume his identity. He is also asexual, yet not a single adaptation of Highsmith’s work has addressed this. With a new adaptation in the works, in the form of a Showtime drama directed by Steven Zaillan and starring Andrew Scott, it’s important to acknowledge and reflect on the ways in which this aspect of Ripley’s character has been erased.

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EXTINCTION REBELLION’S STATEMENT ON POLICE WILL NOT VINDICATE THEM

by Lisa Insansa Woods

In early July, Extinction Rebellion UK released a statement discussing their “relationship with the police.” They explained how they now recognise that their tactics of civil disobedience and mass arrests have been insensitive to and “have excluded Black people, other communities racialised as non-white, and other marginalised groups and contributed to narratives that have put those communities at risk.” They also apologise that this recognition has come so late.Continue Reading

REWRITING THE DICTIONARY – PROFESSIONAL VS SEMI-PROFESSIONAL IN THE ARTS

poetry takeaway yaffa phillips

by Carmina Masoliver

When I was asked by a friend to think about the difference between being a professional artist and a semi-professional artist with regards to my own practice as a writer and a poet, the distinction between the two seemed – to quote author Daniel Piper – arbitrary and unnecessary. The word semi-professional is not something that has been in my vocabulary, because my ideas of professionalism go beyond the dictionary definition of these two words.

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MISBEHAVIOUR (2020) – REVIEW

misbehaviour keira knightley Gugu Mbatha-Raw

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

Philippa Lowthorpe’s recent film on the 1970 Miss World Pageant, Misbehaviour, has enjoyed the advantage of being released just before the lockdown, giving people no choice but to watch it from the comfort of their homes. But while undoubtedly watchable, the film’s approach to feminism and intersectionality notably erases contemporary feminist movements led by women of colour.Continue Reading

EDUCATION AFTER THE PANDEMIC: REFORM AND RENATIONALISATION

By Howard Green

Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.

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NOT A TEAM: HOW THE POLICE OBSTRUCT OTHER EMERGENCY SERVICES (AND TAKE CREDIT)

police miami car crash

by Kasper Hassett

CW: police brutality, racism

We tend to think of them as a trio: the police; the firefighters; the paramedics. They all answer the same phone line; they all blare the same siren on their way to the scene. Not all three, however, exist to support civilians, nor do they operate in unison, and this façade is what enables the police to be revered no matter how much they tear communities apart and instil fear.Continue Reading

A SMALL HOLE, SLIGHTLY CHARRED: CLOTHING AND CLASS IN THE SECRET HISTORY

By Molly Ellen Pearson

‘I was still standing. I’m shot, I thought, I’m shot. I reached down and touched my stomach. Blood. There was a small hole, slightly charred, in my white shirt: my Paul Smith shirt, I thought, with a pang of anguish. I’d paid a week’s salary for it in San Francisco.’

A novel preoccupied with appearances and the dark realities they can conceal, it is no wonder that clothes are a recurring theme in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. As protagonist Richard notices the gunshot in his expensive shirt at the climax, his ‘anguish’ stems less from the injury to his physical body than to the painstakingly assembled body of signifiers he has spent the novel maintaining; a ‘small hole’ through which his history, in its imperfect secrecy, is exposed.

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STATUES ARE COMING DOWN BUT RACISM REMAINS

churchill statue black and white

by Lisa Insansa Woods

Colston is in the river. Winston Churchill is quivering. Cecil Rhodes glares brazenly at the Oxford University governors threatening to tear him down, his maniacal eyes finding flickers of solace in the realisation that whether he remains or not, the society he served over a century ago still slithers in its self-made pool of white supremacy (enough to still make his cold hard mouth turn into a grin).

The taking down of statues is a powerful display of justice. Every day, the Black community has had to endure looking up at its oppressors whilst simultaneously being battered by the system that those same glorified figures acted to perpetuate. Each statue that falls is a nod of recognition to the Black experience – an experience which has been subdued for hundreds of years as something that is not worthy of our knowledge. However, whilst pulling down a statue is a strong gesture, it does not annihilate the insidious manifestation of racism that courses through every part of our society. We need to do more.Continue Reading

ACORN NORWICH – THE UNION TAKING ON DODGY LANDLORDS

By Sean Meleady

Norwich may call itself a ‘fine city’, but this isn’t always the case for renters. Despite some positive stories, such as the Goldsmith Street social housing project, many tenants find life in the city tough.

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ONLINE LEARNING, COVID AND CLASSISM

By Kasper Hassett

Although UK universities boast that their online teaching provision is adequate to the current crisis, deep-rooted inequalities in the class system cause the poorest students to suffer the most. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, working-class students are faced with more challenges than usual, and are also less able to access online teaching than their middle- and upper-class peers. Despite their disproportionate struggle to engage with remote teaching, universities are refusing to show leniency with deferrals and adjustments, feigning blindness to a violently unjust class system. The response of universities to this pandemic is insufficient at best, and places those students facing hardship at an even further disadvantage.

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TIME & TIDE: STORIES AND POEMS FROM SOLSTICE SHORTS FESTIVAL 2019

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by Carmina Masoliver

The Solstice Shorts Festival is an international festival held on 21st December of each year, and includes short stories, poems and songs. In 2019, it was held in seven port towns across four different countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Portugal). The theme was ‘Time and Tide’, with performers sharing work about making a living on or beside the water, and making new lives over the water. Arachne Press funded the event, along with 50 crowd funders, Arts Council England, Aberdeenshire Council, and Literature Wales. The press is directed by Cherry Potts, who edits/co-edits all the anthology. She also runs the festival connected with this book, and is one example of just one of the independent feminist ventures that makes up the live literature scene in the UK.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE RIOTING AND THE LOOTING

riot fire blm chad davis

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

We need to talk about the rioting. And the looting. And the destruction of statues during recent Black Lives Matter protests. We really do. The failure to recognise the entrenched nature of historical and enduring structural violence in both the US and the UK speaks volumes in terms of the normalization of oppression, enforced poverty, racism and discrimination in contemporary society. Whilst there are certainly white victims of structural violence, it is an irrefutable fact that Black or minority ethnic communities experience the most severe intersecting consequences – not as uncomfortable rarities, but as a grinding, every day, relentless struggle, which as we have seen in the case of George Floyd along with so many other black men, women and youth, can too often have fatal results.Continue Reading

THE ONLY WAY TO END POLICE BRUTALITY IS TO ABOLISH THE POLICE

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by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

A tide of anguish currently sweeps our world, hammering at the white supremacist order. On the evening of May 25th, George Floyd was mercilessly killed by a white US policeman. The world watched from their homes as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring his screams as he called out that he couldn’t breathe. George Floyd was suffocated of his last breath. Three other policemen stood and watched. The state brutally murdered a Black man. The people decided to revolt.

Right now, we are seeing mass protests from the US to the UK to the rest of the world, both on the streets and online, physically and mentally. Police brutality pervades our society and the recent piling up of Black bodies such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery has become just too much. We need change. The only way to achieve this change is to abolish the police.Continue Reading

‘THREAT TO THE POLISH STATE’ – ANTI LGBT SENTIMENTS ENSHRINED IN POLISH LAW

by Ewa Giera

CW: homophobia

As a ‘citizen of nowhere’ who spends far more time engaged with UK politics, I often get to turn a blind eye to the place I’ve left behind. But to many who follow the general flow of Polish politics, it won’t be a surprise that this year marks Poland’s drop to 42nd place out of 49 in ILGA Europe’s annual Rainbow Map ranking, making it the least LGBTQIA+ friendly country in the European Union. As we experience a rise in fascist politics across the majority of Europe, it’s worth to take a closer look at the way Poland has approached its place on the list and the way its government has enshrined its anti-LGBT sentiment in both culture and policy.Continue Reading

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A DRESS BY EMMA LEE – REVIEW

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by Carmina Masoliver

Clothing, fashion, and perhaps particularly dresses, are often seen as insignificant. Arguably disregarded due to its feminine associations, any artistry is often deemed lesser than other forms of art and creation. With The Significance of a Dress (Arachne Press, 2020), Emma Lee explores the female voice through various characters’ stories, taking the reader from refugee camps in Iraq to suffragettes in Britain. Whilst it is often presumed that poetry is autobiographical, perhaps Lee’s experience as a short story writer informs her desire to take on others’ voices, including those who may be voiceless in order to present the personal as political.

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MYANMAR SUBMITS FIRST ICJ REPORT AMIDST NEW ALLEGATIONS OF WAR CRIMES

by Lotty Clare

CW: article mentions ethnic cleansing, violence, genocide, torture.

“For decades, its tactics have intentionally maximized civilian suffering; we all know what they did to the Rohingya in 2017. They are now targeting all civilians in the conflict area, with people from Rakhine, Rohingya, Mro, Daignet and Chin communities being killed in recent months. Their alleged crimes must be investigated in accordance with international standards, with perpetrators being held accountable” 

These scathing remarks about the Myanmar military are part of Yanghee Lee’s last statement of her tenure in the role as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

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WILL IRAQ’S NEW PRIME MINISTER RECOGNISE ROMA RIGHTS?

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In early May 2020, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as Iraq’s new Prime Minister against the context of ongoing protests and popular discontent resulting from widespread government corruption. This corruption has contributed massively towards increasing poverty, reduction in public services and rising unemployment. Since the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, social cohesion has fractured perhaps (but hopefully not) irrevocably, with politics and society becoming increasingly sectarian.

The effects of the sectarian conflict in Iraq have been widely reported on, but the media has remained largely silent on the dire situation of the Iraqi Roma. This lack of attention by the media is reflective of the neglect of the Roma of Iraq by the government, humanitarian and human rights organizations and largely speaking, civic society in general. The complete lack of information produced by the Iraqi government on the Iraqi Roma is symptomatic of the de facto policies of ostracization and othering which have persisted since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. The number of Roma residents in Iraq, including the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), is unknown, but best estimates place the figure at nearly 200,000 – translating to roughly 0.5% of the Iraqi population. Continue Reading

QUEER LONELINESS & THE IMPENDING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

by Kasper Hassett

CW: mental health

Long predating the lockdown, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness at alarmingly high levels. This reached a point where ‘queer loneliness’ was dubbed an epidemic, and the mental health of the community overall was recognised as dire. With many now separated from their support networks during lockdown, queer people are experiencing new lows in their mental health. Additionally, much of the previously mentally healthy population is also struggling, and NHS services are suffocating from cuts, meaning that many queer people will miss out on vital mental health services as a complacent wider world focuses on going ‘back to normal’. Continue Reading

WHAT NEXT FOR NORWICH’S YOUNG CLIMATE PROTESTERS?

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By Howard Green

Since 2018, cities across the globe have had many of their Fridays dominated by the vibrancy and passion of youth climate protesters. It’s a testament to the radical attitudes of Norwich’s young population that such large crowds have flocked to the city centre to protest against the current climate regime. Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic has dried up physical activism in the city for the time being. There is a serious risk that this pandemic may lead to the voices of young people, especially those in secondary school and sixth form, being silenced within Norfolk and across the country. We must diagnose the problem if we are to move forward and continue on in protest.

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THE AGRICULTURE BILL WAS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD RESILIENCE IN A TIME OF CRISIS

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by Yali Banton-Heath

The Covid-19 crisis has rusted the already weak links holding the UK’s food supply chain together. From just-in-time logistic strategies to a desperate reliance on imported goods and labour, supermarkets have struggled to keep up with panic buying, farmers have feared that their vegetables will rot in fields, and farm to table supply chains have been hugely disrupted.

It is exposing our food system’s incapacity to respond to emergencies in the short-term, whilst also beckoning reform in terms of its sustainability in the longer-term. 

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CAPITALISING ON CRISIS: BILLIONAIRES, PATENT WARS AND SURVEILLANCE IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19

by Tesni Clare

It’s not an original idea: opportunistic, peripatetic capitalism works by capitalising on its own crises. The idea rings even truer for neoliberal capitalism. 

It’s what Naomi Klein has dubbed ‘disaster capitalism’. Amidst public disorientation following a crisis, control is achieved by the imposition of economic shock therapy, or in other words, economic liberalisation – public spending is withdrawn, large scale privatisation occurs, and disaster is transformed into a shiny new investment. Private contractors move in, gobble up funding for their efforts to ‘clean up’, and billions get cut from government budgets. 

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ARE WE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER? COVID AND RACISM

by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism

At the moment, we are led to believe that Covid-19 is a marauder snatching away our media, our minds and our vulnerable population and that the only way to defeat such a pernicious beast is to sing hollow cries of “we are all in this together.” Yes, this should be a time for us to unify in communal admonishment of the situation; a time where we should realise our shared will to thrive alongside our neighbours; a time to join mutual aid groups to help those more vulnerable in a true display of fraternité; but, in doing this, we should not be blind to the fact that we do not share an equal burden.Continue Reading

MIXED MESSAGES: THE SEMIOTICS OF COVID-19 ADVICE

By Lewis Martin

In its infinite wisdom, the Conservative Government in England has chosen to change its messaging around Covid-19, from ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’, to ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’. Putting aside the irony of both these proclamations (this government never had a plan to protect the NHS, and was about as alert to the virus as to a whale falling from the sky), this isn’t the only change that has taken place. There were also a number of subtle changes in the visual presentation of the advice that will have ramifications for how people both interpret and follow it.Continue Reading

WELL-BEING FIRST: THINKING HEALTHY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

by Sunetra Senior

A couple of weeks ago we were told of the extent of the Tory government’s negligence during a time of intense international crisis. They disregarded important information provided by advisory committees at critical moments as well as the crucial COBRA Meetings themselves, which are specifically held to ensure strong leadership at times of national emergency. According to the article in The Times, Boris’ earlier inaction has resulted in the number of deaths reaching six figures with the estimated mortality predicted to be 400,000. Of course, in addition to patently disregarding hundreds of thousands of lives, Johnson’s administration has also put the physical health of millions at risk with the virus running uncontrolled throughout the population for a whole month between 24th Feb when the recorded number of deaths skyrocketed, and the announcement of effective lockdown measures in mid-March.Continue Reading

VAULT FESTIVAL 2020 – TOP FIVE SHOWS

by Carmina Masoliver

I previously wrote about Madame Ovary, which set the bar for me when it came to deciding my top shows from this year’s VAULT Festival. Aside from this, here are five more shows that hit the bar for me.

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THE ACID TEST OF ‘BRITISHNESS’: DEFERENCE TO POLITICAL ELITES OR DEFENCE OF DEMOCRACY?

by Sarah Edgcumbe 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to have disastrous consequences for many people around the globe who have lost loved ones, or who are struggling to cope financially due to livelihood disruption. Domestic violence rates have increased at a staggering rate, whilst loneliness and uncertainty are having a negative effect on many people’s mental health. It is amidst these turbulent times that once again, much like the train-wreck of Brexit, the acid test of “Britishness” seems to be qualified by how deferential people can be to the political elite, as opposed to how willing they are to defend democracy and the welfare of Britain’s citizens and residents.

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‘INVERTING THE PROGRESSIVE’: ANTI-LEFTISM AND BBC’S NOUGHTS AND CROSSES

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by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

warning: this review contains spoilers.

When I learned that the BBC was airing the first ever television adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s award-winning teen novel, Noughts and Crosses, I was instantly intrigued. How would Blackman’s vision of an alternately racialised society play out on the small screen in 2020? 

The speculative fiction novel (first of a series), published in 2001, follows a teenage friendship – later romance – between Callum, a member of the Nought (light-skinned) oppressed underclass, and Sephy, a member of the Cross (dark-skinned) ruling class. The adaptation is more adult, dramatic and violent – it also contains several new plot points.

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RAVENOUS – A BRIEF HISTORY OF CANNIBAL CAPITALISM

by Jack Brindelli

Released a year before the turn of the Millennium – a year which drew its primary significance as a milestone from being an anniversary of Jesus’ birth – Antonia Bird’s Ravenous took us on a darkly comic journey into that most sinister yet persistent aspect of the human condition; cannibalism. What is to be noted though, is that the film clearly foregrounds the fact cannibalism is not just a literal act, committed by black-eyed psychopaths in the American wilderness, it is the metaphorical process of manifest destiny, of the consumption of lands and human energy for profit that would underwrite the world that birthed our own 21st century world.Continue Reading

RESISTANCE AND REBELLION AFTER COVID-19

by Sarah Edgcumbe 

What a time to be alive. As Covid-19 rampages its way across the globe ravaging families and livelihoods, a medical fetish company has had to supply the NHS with equipment because the British government is a lethal combination of neoliberal, greedy and incompetent. While kink is contributing to saving lives, and while many people are faced with the prospect of trying to subsist and keep their families afloat on £94.25 per week sick pay during the lockdown, the British government has been putting together £1 billion of public funding to be doled out to countries who then intend to use this loan to buy British-made bombs and surveillance technology. British people die through negligence, people in other nations die through cataclysmic violence: welcome to Tory Britain.

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CORONAVIRUS AND THE POLITICS OF THE DEAD

by Jack Brindelli

Until recently, it turns out people all had rather twee conceptions of what they would do in the zombie apocalypse. Over the catastrophic few weeks it has taken for the coronavirus outbreak to become a seemingly uncontainable pandemic, the idea that everyone would easily assemble rag-tag bands of self-sufficient survivors, each with a set of key skills to contribute to staving off the undead horde – or even that they could coolly stroll to The Winchester and wait for this all to all blow over while sitting in the dark, cramming monkey-nuts into their faces – has somewhat been blown out of the water.

It turns out while the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-Blitz-Spirit-I’m-Alright-Jack-Brexit-Means-Brexit brigade who until recently seemed to have the nation in a never-ending strangle-hold might have slightly overestimated themselves. Instead, the ‘hardened survivors’ in the dog-eat-dog rat-race of neo-liberal Britain have largely prepared for the end times by hording enough TP to last six life-times of shit, and hanging timidly on every word of advice from a serial-fibber hermetically sealed in 10 Downing Street who seems to want their grandparents to die.

With regards to that though, as a horror enthusiast, I feel one of the few positives to come out of the UK’s rapid disintegration into an island-death-cult is that it surely ends the facile debate around whether zombies need to be fast to be scary. For years, casual fans of the horror genre would casually bleat that slow-moving zombies would be far too easy to contain. Not only could the all-powerful state machinery of the police and army quite simply outflank the shambling masses, the theory was that civil society – and its mass-dissemination of information through ever faster means in the late 20th and early 21st century –would mean the masses would all be more than ready and able to do their part in stopping a pandemic. What the last few weeks of utter disarray prove beyond doubt is that that was wilful ignorance.

one of the few positives to come out of the UK’s rapid disintegration into an island-death-cult is that it surely ends the facile debate around whether zombies need to be fast to be scary

The incumbent Government has spent a decade dismantling the very healthcare infrastructure it turns out Britain needs to weather a pandemic, while its sustained campaign of austerity has weakened the economy to the point a gust of wind could send the whole house of cards tumbling down. Realising his previously unassailable majority in the House of Commons is unlikely to survive the death of hundreds of thousands of his voters, as well as a recession of his making, Boris Johnson has engaged in a dogged exercise of covering his own arse via a campaign of disinformation, while consolidating his position by investing himself with emergency powers before shit hits the fan.

In the fallout of this, while ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ panic buyers strip the shelves of essentials they have more than enough of, and London’s commute is still crammed with gig-economy slaves too poor to self-isolate, under-resourced hospitals are having to kit nurses with improvised masks and re-used gloves. Not disconnectedly, the number of Covid-19 cases is still booming, and the body-count mounting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7ynwAgQlDQ

Sitting back and watching the chaos ensue, it is now thoroughly clear that the Rage virus of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later did not sweep the nation simply because the infected could  run, jump or vomit blood, but because it actually took place in an alternative timeline, where there was a Tory Government in 2002.

In deleted scenes, fictitious Prime Minister Joris Bohnson no doubt blundered his way through manic press-conferences, suggesting that “for all we know there could be 100,000 cases of Rage already, so really is there any point in trying to fight it?” Later he may even have suggested it was better to “just let it move through the population” in order to achieve the fabled herd immunity – before concluding in the meantime, the best thing we could do is go to crowded public places and stimulate the economy by purchasing blunt objects with which to defend ourselves from the growing horde of the undead.

The desperation to maintain the status-quo that had enriched the rich and influential meant they would obscure the bigger picture from the population

Indeed, on a global level, the level of wilful ignorance, gross negligence and criminal incompetence exhibited by the majority of the world’s governments (based in the Netherlands, I can tell you Mark Rutte’s management of this crisis has been every bit as bad as Boris’) – paired with the odious disregard for human life exhibited by businesses bent on ‘keeping the beaches open’ at all costs – show exactly how prescient filmmakers like George A. Romero were. In those films, the determination of the state and the private sector to maintain their wealth and power were truly the most horrific element of the story.

The desperation to maintain the status-quo that had enriched the rich and influential meant they would obscure the bigger picture from the population (the chaotic double-speak in Dawn of the Dead’s media coverage is scarily similar to that of the Covid-19 outbreak) for fear of prompting calls for governments and bosses to be held accountable for the mounting crisis, or to support the vulnerable people who would be the first victims. On top of this, it often meant they would brutally seek to put down the masses’ attempts to improve the situation, or to reclaim any power ceded to them during the collapse of society (as seen in Land of the Dead).

Running or walking then, the zombie genre stands as a stark warning to us, especially in times like these. When a crisis suddenly illustrates all the weak-points in a socio-economic system we are trained from birth to believe is not only superior, but natural, we must be ready to learn on our feet – and fight to upend the economic and governmental norms which are guaranteed to fail us in a time of crisis. Our very survival is on the line.

Since this was written, Covid-19 has been stricken by having to share a body with Boris Johnson. Our thoughts and prayers are with the virus at this trying time.

(originally published on IndyFilmLibrary, republished with permission)

Indy Film Library

Until recently, it turns out people all had rather twee conceptions of what they would do in the zombie apocalypse. Over the catastrophic few weeks it has taken for the coronavirus outbreak to become a seemingly uncontainable pandemic, the idea that everyone would easily assemble rag-tag bands of self-sufficient survivors, each with a set of key skills to contribute to staving off the undead horde – or even that they could coolly stroll to The Winchester and wait for this all to all blow over while sitting in the dark, cramming monkey-nuts into their faces – has somewhat been blown out of the water.

It turns out while the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-Blitz-Spirit-I’m-Alright-Jack-Brexit-Means-Brexit brigade who until recently seemed to have the nation in a never-ending strangle-hold might have slightly overestimated themselves. Instead, the ‘hardened survivors’ in the dog-eat-dog rat-race of neo-liberal Britain have largely prepared for the end times by hording enough TP…

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VAULT FESTIVAL: MADAME OVARY

By Carmina Masoliver

tw: mentions of terminal illness

It’s that time of year again, and we’re now coming towards the end of it. VAULT Festival, now in its eight year, has opened up the tunnels of Leake Street and surrounding areas to bring even more shows than ever before.

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AVENUES FOR JUSTICE – INTERVIEW WITH CINDY RUSKIN

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

This is the second instalment of the Interviews with NYC Artists series. Part 1 is available here.

Later on that cold December day, after my meeting with Sally, I battle my way through the New York snow to meet the artist Cindy Ruskin in her apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The apartment is filled with art supplies, paintings and other works, including a renovated garbage can laden with small models and storytelling sketches. 

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ARE VENUES REALLY DISAPPEARING? MUSIC VENUES IN NORWICH ARE BUCKING THE TREND

by Alex Day

Clubs these days have it tough. 

Gentrification, some say, is killing our venues. Student flats, noise restrictions, Dry January

How does one make money with surging rents and a clientele streaming limitless online content from home, bed-ridden and booze-shy?

AND there’s the dubious authorities I imagine peering through the smoke and shadows, itching to close noisy night spots. One wrong move and they’ll surely revoke your license. 

Dingy nests for underground music are being smothered into obscurity – the narrative goes. 

There is evidence to support this. In the last decade, 35% of independent venues in the UK closed.  A UK ‘live music census’, conducted for the first time in 2018, found that a third of live music venues have experienced problems with property developments

As with live music, night clubs are also having a rough ride. Over just eight years, the capital has lost 50 per cent of its nightclubs. Fabric, a behemoth in London’s clubbing landscape, had their license revoked after two drug-related deaths (they subsequently reopened following a rapturous national campaign). 

In Bristol, clubs are also being barged adrift. Thekla, an infamous boat party, was threatened by a residential development in 2017 and, the following year, Lakota announced they may refashion themselves into a ‘mixed-use development’ (a by-word for swanky digs and a Co-op). 

 

Norwich Arts Centre, Space Studios and Gonzo’s Two Room remain fiercely independent and are teeming with dancers.

 

Thekla and Fabric continue to host parties, but their rocky rides remind us our favourite clubs are not immune to urban development nor police authority. Corporate hegemony seems to be erasing independent venues. 

Yet, in spite of such cataclysmic headlines, music venues in Norwich are hitting their stride. Norwich Arts Centre, Space Studios and Gonzo’s Two Room remain fiercely independent and are teaming with dancers. They have not suffered the pesky erasure that plagues other cities.

I spoke to the managers and programmers involved to find out how they do it. 

Gonzo’s Two Room is a “breath of fresh air’” says Levi, a promoter with 12 years’ experience. Last year the club rehoused, abandoning Bermuda Bob’s for a space darned with sophisticated interior, rooftop terrace and ‘sweaty 250 cap’: “we’re blessed to have it’” Levi concurs. So far, Gigi FM, Peach and Joy Orbison have graced the booth. 

Like Gonzo’s Two Room, Norwich Arts Centre (NAC) has embarked on an upgrade. The bar and auditorium have been refurbished and a gender-neutral toilet is incoming, supported by a £500,000 grant; all part of the NAC Regenerations Project. 

Space Studios is a smaller, 100-capacity, venue and ‘the closest thing to a house party’, according to Abraham, the manager. It is a hotbed for new promoters, like Bass in Space and Utopia 4 Junglists, and live bands. Abraham booked 100 bands last year. 

So what’s their secret? 

One way to turn a profit is to diversify. As well as music, Gonzo’s offers a monthly comedy night and operates a ‘Tea Room’ downstairs, whilst Space Studios houses yoga, meditation and 18 artist studios. NAC is also eclectic, presenting spoken word and theatre.  No venue is aligned to just live music. 

 

…when local artists develop, shows improve and audiences flock faster

 

Another approach helping sustain these venues is to work closely with the local community.  At the top of Abraham’s agenda is to “‘develop a scene and support local talent”. He admits it’s “difficult to turn a profit”, but such a component is unimportant when partnerships are fuelled by goodwill. At NAC, ‘True Stories Live’ invites amateur raconteurs to the stage, voicing local stories to a local audience. Gonzo’s supports local promoters, like Our House and Keep on Dancing, which has a synchronous effect: when local artists develop, shows improve and audiences flock faster. 

Amongst the local talent, these venues are platforming marginalised communities. Gonzo’s aim for a 50/50 gender split in DJ bookings; evidenced by recent headliners Éclair Fifi and Moxie. The NAC are a long-term supporter of House of Daze, a leading Norwich drag show, and began this year with a discussion on ‘representation’.  Space Studios have also announced a monthly ‘House of Daze’ event. To thrive, venues must be accessible and open-minded.

Grassroots venues are helped further by city-wide festivals, such as Wigflex City Festival and Simple Things, which draws punters to unchartered destinations in Bristol and Nottingham. Last year, Norwich was enlivened by Wild Paths, a three-day music festival that celebrates venues, as much as music. All the programmers I spoke to were busy assembling gigs for a flurry of footfall this October, when Wild Paths returns. 

All this ingenuity is, crucially, being supported by our local council. Whilst transitioning into Gonzo’s Two Room, Levi felt the “the council were great” and “understood what you were doing”.  The figures confirm: Since 2017, the council has granted 100 new licenses and no venues have been closed due to noise complaints. 

At national government level, optimism abounds: small and medium music venues can look forward to a 50% reduction in business rates, which the Music Venue Trust estimates will save each site an average of £7,500 a year. And, Arts Council have renewed their Supporting Grassroots Live Music Fund, a pot that amounts to £1.5 million, until 2021. 

Still, venues embedded in Norwich’s compact lanes are not immune from noise complaints. Bermuda Bob’s renamed and relocated after a neighbouring pub issued a noise complaint last year (although they weren’t evicted). Space Studios, which is not a nightclub in a traditional sense, abides by strict decibel rules to deter from confrontation and encourage conversation. A few years ago, they closed temporarily due to ‘licensing issues’. 

Running venues is rarely plain sailing. To avoid instances of ‘statutory nuisance’ in future, property developers and politicians must continue to support the creative calisthenics performed by our limber venues. This means sound-proofing new developments and appointing a night-czar, like Amy Lamé. Beer-glugging youths, poised with gun fingers, may be underrepresented at the director’s table, but their access to culture should not be limited. 

Our nightspots are bolstered by diverse events and offering their platform to local and marginalised groups – smart remedies for a tough climate. Yet, without the approval and financial backbone of local and national government, venues vanish. 

Head out and support. Here’s a programme of events that invite you to shuffle:

https://www.facebook.com/events/3040736312638075/

https://www.facebook.com/events/2723143201139464/

https://www.facebook.com/events/158872398865144/

 

[In light of recent COVID-19 expansion and news, please be aware that these events may now not be taking place as originally described.]

Featured image credit: Gonzo’s Tea Room Facebook Page


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COVID-19, POSTCAPITALISM AND EXTERMINISM; IT’S TIME TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE

by Yali Banton-Heath

As the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak exposes capitalism for all its evils, now is the time to start laying the foundations for a better future.

We’ve been in the final throes of capitalism for some time now. Since the financial crash of 2008 long-term economic stagnation has persisted in the west, yet 1% of the world’s population have managed to hoard almost half of global wealth. As the world faces a global pandemic of the life-threatening novel coronavirus aka Covid-19, now more than ever the faults in our capitalist system are screaming out for scrutiny, and it is fast becoming obvious that inequality kills, and capitalism is to blame.  

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THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART II

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Part I of this article can be found here.

Since the United Kingdom signed the Withdrawal Agreement and formally left the European Union on 31st January, Remainers and Leavers are just as polarised as they ever were. Much of the rhetoric from Leavers and Remainers demonstrates a warped understanding of what the EU actually is and how it works. In this part, we address a few notable example of the things which both sides get very, very wrong.

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THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART I

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Lots of people are probably feeling quite deflated at the moment, after the United Kingdom finally signed the Withdrawal Agreement and officially left the European Union on 31st January. Liberal Remainers are certainly making their grief known to the world, crying from the digital rooftops and tearing their virtual hair out. Meanwhile the most fanatic Leavers are probably wondering why all the foreigners are still here and why milk and flour still comes in litres and kilograms. It’s all fiction of course. We’ve not left the EU yet in economic terms, so until the end of the year almost nothing will change. Continue Reading

IN SOLIDARITY WITH AL-MOUNADIL/AH AS MOROCCO CONTINUES TO STIFLE VOICES OF DISSENT

by Yali Banton-Heath

The revolutionary socialist newspaper and website Al-Mounadil/ah or ‘The Militant’ is facing an existential legal threat from the Moroccan state under it’s continued assault on the Left, progressive voices, and freedom of expression in the country. The onslaught of arrests and passing of restrictive legislation in recent years has targeted independent journalists and publications, and the use of social media and the internet as a platform for political expression. As the statement released by Al-Mounadil/ah’s editorial team reads: “the restrictions will not succeed in gagging voices; the advancement of technology will make a mockery of anyone that tries.

Al-Mounadil/ah’s director  received a court summons late last month regarding the newspaper’s compliance with Morocco’s Press and Publications Law; a piece of legislation which places onerous conditions on reporters and journalists in attempt to suffocate dissent in the media. Continue Reading

AN ODE TO PLATFORM 12

By Tom McGhie

It’s a tranquil late summer evening in Norwich city centre. A blanket of stillness coats the ancient streets and the sun’s gentle retreat takes with it memories of a pristine Sunday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, a walk through the Lanes would have been punctuated by groups of young men in a state of alcohol-induced revelry or tourists snatching photographs of the Cathedral. Now, it’s an easy stroll with a soundtrack of birdsong and distant traffic.

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RUPI KAUR – POET OF THE DECADE?

by Carmina Masoliver

Naming one poet as the ‘poet of the decade’, or writing lists of poets to watch, can arguably be an arbitrary act. But, the naming does inevitably draw more interest to those poets as we consume the easily digestible content and assume that it must have some bearing on those who made it. As a poet myself, I have seen many lists (looking for my own name as well as potential feature acts for my show, She Grrrowls), and most of these lists do offer some great poets to watch. However, the number of people considering poetry professionally is inevitably growing, and there are always going to be extremely talented poets that don’t get the recognition they deserve.

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YANGON PRIDE KICKS OFF WITH NEW #LOVEISNOTACRIME CAMPAIGN

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by Lotty Clare

Content warning: sexual violence, corrective rape, sexual abuse, suicide.

Last Friday was the beginning of Yangon Pride celebrations in a country where human rights abuses are rife, and homosexuality is criminalised. The rising profile of LGBTQ+ rights in Myanmar provides precious hope for queer people in the country. However, the road to equality is a long one.  

Yangon’s 2020 Pride festival is organised by &PROUD and runs from January 18th to February 2nd. The opening day in Thakin Mya park attracted thousands of people. The city’s pride events include a boat parade, queer dance performances, drag shows, queer film screenings and panel discussions, and of course lots of rainbows. The films that will be shown include ‘A Simple Love Story’ a short documentary film that was given a distinction in the Wathann Film Festival but was not screened due to censorship, even though there was no nudity. The film centred around a trans couple and asked the question ‘does love have any gender?’. Continue Reading

EDGES OF A SOUTH BROOKLYN SKY – INTERVIEW WITH SALLY GIL

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by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

The New York art scene is famous for its alternative, underground character. But the city is also home to various initiatives aimed at making art accessible – as an entertainment form and as an activity – to a wider proportion of the public. I met up with two New York artists changing the role of art through such projects to discuss their respective projects’ structures, experiences of participation, and the social significance of their art within the gritty realities of New York life.

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CHINA STRENGTHENS TIES WITH MYANMAR AS HUMAN RIGHTS FALL BY THE WAYSIDE

by Yali Banton-Heath

Chinese head of state Xi Jinping made his first official visit to Myanmar (Burma) on Friday, where he met with State Councillor and de facto leader of the country Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and the Burmese military’s infamous commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Although it was Jinping’s first visit since assuming office, the occasion marked 70 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries and signifies a continued mutual desire to unite their economic and strategic interests. A total of 33 agreements were signed to speed up China-backed development projects in Myanmar and bolster the China-Myanmar-Economic-Corridor; a vital component of the wider Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Both countries have track records of serious state-sponsored human rights abuses, and share an increasing disdain for, and distancing from the West. With the tantalising promise of economic prosperity, has China got Myanmar under its thumb, and will development come at the expense of human rights.Continue Reading

DOMINIC RAAB EPITOMIZES THE GROSS INCOMPETENCY OF THE TORY CABINET

By Jonathan Lee

It’s easy to forget about Dominic Raab. He has the special ability, endemic to those inhabiting the current Tory cabinet, of being able to adjust his principles and cabinet position with a chamaeleon-like proficiency.

It’s actually hard to remember who does what in the Tory government in general, because there have been so many cabinet shuffles and reshuffles since 2016. The same group of tribalist, Tory chancers have been switched around so many times in recent years, it makes it difficult to hold individuals accountable for the disastrous policies put forward by recent governments.Continue Reading

INDIA’S DEMOCRACY IS AT BREAKING POINT

by Ella Wade-Jones

On 12th December India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed the Citizen (Amendment) Act (CAA) into law. The series of protests that have erupted and brutal crackdown that has ensued has thrown the country into a state of flux. The highly controversial Citizen (Amendent) Act seeks to fundamentally amend the definition of illegal immigrants in India. Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsi and Buddhist immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years. Muslims are not included on the list. 

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SLAUGHTER AND MASS DISPLACEMENT IN IDLIB

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“Children and anybody with a free spirit have become terrorists in the eyes of the world.” My Syrian friend and I are discussing the current situation in Idlib. We are both exasperated that the world is standing idly by as thousands of innocent people are murdered or made homeless. Idlib, a governorate in North West Syria, is often portrayed as home exclusively to terrorists and violent Islamist extremists. My friend’s reference to “a free spirit” is his description of the people who participated in the Syrian revolution: those who dared to demand a free and peaceful life including the right to participate in democratic elections and to exercise freedom of speech and assembly without fear of being arbitrarily detained, tortured, executed or otherwise disappeared into the Syrian regime’s nightmarish prison system.Continue Reading

ROSINA KAZI INTERVIEW: LAL, UNIT 2 & COMMUNITY WORK

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

The Canadian electronic music scene is relatively little-known internationally, not least its radical activist elements. But LAL, the Toronto-based electronic duo, never sought widespread international recognition. Instead, the self-identified ‘semi-anarchist’ couple – singer-songwriter/manager Rosina Kazi, and producer-instrumentalist Nicholas Murray – have embraced their position outside the mainstream by fostering a literal and metaphorical space for alternative musicians and poets. They produce their own unique sounds, inspired by both European electronic and fusion bands. They’re also influenced by both the Canadian, and the global socio-political landscapes. I sat down with Rosina in a downtown Toronto coffee shop to discuss the band’s history, potential move to Europe, and their community performance space, Unit 2.

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THE NORWICH RADICAL IN 2019

by Alex Valente

2019 is drawing to a close, but the turmoil and trauma of this turbulent year show no signs of abating. As we wrote on the cold, miserable and particularly unfortunate morning of Friday the 13th,

in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.

The turn of a decade is an important time to review, to remember what the good fight is actually about, and what type of work is expected from us, as people, as a community, as a society.Continue Reading

THE MORNING AFTER #GE2019

The Norwich Radical Editorial Team

By now you’ve seen the headlines. There’s no easy way to say this: in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.Continue Reading

AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS DEFENDING ROHINGYA GENOCIDE; BUT WHY?

by Lotty Clare

Last month The Gambia, with the support of the Organisation for Islamic Co-operation (OIC), filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice against Myanmar, accusing the state of breaching the Genocide Convention due to the systematic violence carried out against Rohingya. Public hearings will take place on 10-12 of December in the Hague and will be attended by a team headed by State Councillor and de facto head of state Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

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NARRATIVES OF POWER & THE SILENCING OF COMMUNITY

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled. Continue Reading

A KINDER KIND OF POWER: WORDS FROM THE UEA PICKET LINE

By Rowan Gavin

We are the morning greeting. We are cold boots on colder ground. We are the smiles in the winter sunshine. We are the chants and the songs and the stiff-limbed dances. We are the fascinator of freedomthe little red coat of resistance and packet line soylidarity. We are the educators, learning in a new classroom. We are the outrage, and the laughter. We are here to fight the power. We are power.

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THE RIGHT TO RIDICULE: SATIRE AS PROTEST

By Jess O’Dwyer

“There is a political power in laughing at these people.”

So say Led By Donkeys, a “Brexit accountability project” created by four friends who wanted to “[channel] frustration into action and [hold] politicians to account with a bit of humour.” The group go around the country putting up billboards with quotes or Tweets from pro-Brexit politicians, as well as projecting or broadcasting previous interviews on Brexit. This is to show a side-by-side comparison of their changes in stance, highlighting contradiction and hypocrisy.

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THE TORY RECORD ON GYPSIES, ROMA & TRAVELLERS MAKES FOR GRIM READING

by Jonathan Lee

A political party in the UK is defined by its members and its representatives. Regardless of the leader, the real character of a party is found in the policies it puts forward, and the things that its cabinet members, MPs, and local councillors do and say. In the Labour Party, the about turn the party took from being the neoliberal centre-right party of Tony Blair, to the democratic socialist party of Jeremy Corbyn was brought about by the will of its members. The elected politicians of the Labour Party do not always see eye-to-eye with their leader, but if you look at the collective things they say and do, and the policies they propose, there is a broad consensus on certain values which tell you the nature of the party as a whole. The same can be said of the Conservative Party. You can read more here if you want a ten year history of Conservative hate speech against Romani and Traveller people.

The following is a summary of Conservative policies which have affected Gypsies, Roma, & Travellers during the time the Conservatives have been in power.Continue Reading

GENERAL ELECTION: A JEWISH LEFTIST’S THOUGHTS

by Tamar Moshkovitz

This was originally posted as a personal reflection, but the editorial team approached me after reading, and we thought it might find a different, perhaps wider audience on The Norwich Radical. 

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stay silent on the lead up to this general election. Not only because I feel that it’ll be a major defining moment in the history of the UK – which it will; for anyone who’s not registered to vote yet, please do so here – but because every time I think about saying what I think I get hopelessly tangled up in the mess of being both Jewish and a leftist.Continue Reading

LAND JUSTICE AND THE 2019 LABOUR MANIFESTO: A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

by Yali Banton-Heath

A massive issue facing the UK at the moment is right under our noses and indeed right under our feet. That issue is land. Though land injustice may stem from historical legislation such as the Enclosure Acts and the shrinking of the commons through large-scale land grabs over past centuries, the phenomenon continues today, with land inequality becoming ever-increasingly stark. Land is moving more and more from public control into wealthy private hands, with land and housing prices rocketing over recent decades as a result of speculative inflation. In 1995 the total value of land in the UK was around £1 trillion, that figure is now more than £5 trillion

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FIRE, WATER AND GOVERNMENT

 

“Fire, water and government know nothing of mercy.”

Albanian proverb

 

by Gunnar Eigener

The climate emergency is becoming increasingly obvious, with weather events wreaking havoc both near and far. Increasingly uncontrollable and expansive fires continue to burn across many global regions. Heavy rains have brought flooding, endangering small communities. Droughts dry out forests and land, leaving livestock and livelihoods at risk. The demands of human society are taking their toll. Yet even as climate change finally takes its place at the top of the agenda for many countries, those who are the worst carbon emitters continue to fail in their duty to protect their citizens. Economy remains the priority for government domestic policies across the Western world and beyond. 

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WANT TO KNOW THE SOUL OF WALES? LISTEN TO HER MUSIC

by Jonathan Lee

The oldest known song in the British Isles dates back 1,400 years and it’s written in Welsh.

Pais Dinogad was sung in Rheged, a kingdom of Yr Hen Ogledd (the old North), in what is now modern day Cumbria and the Scottish Lowlands. The song is a simple lullaby, telling a baby of his father, Lord Dinogad, who is out hunting in a time long before Anglo-Saxons or even Gaels had arrived in this part of Britain.

It probably wouldn’t be described as an absolute banger if we’re completely honest (although this lyre-wielding, tattooed, metal-head gives it a real good go). It’s nonetheless incredible that it’s still being sung at all today, and that its lyrics are broadly comprehensible to modern Welsh speakers.Continue Reading

THIS ELECTION IS THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES – HERE’S HOW WE CAN WIN IT

By Bradley Allsop

The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.

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ROJAVA, REFUGEES & EU RESPONSIBILITY

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Since Turkey’s aggressive offensive against Rojava, an area of North Eastern Syria, began early in October 2019, at least 160,000 Syrians have fled their homes. A BBC report from the 17th October states that airstrikes and ground attacks have killed civilians on both sides of the Turkey / Syria border and quotes a UNICEF estimate that 70,000 children have already been displaced. This is a tragedy for the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, as well as the broader Middle East, given what the Rojava political project represented. Continue Reading

WE ALL NEED A JUNGLIST’S UTOPIA

by Alex Day

Jungle, for those that don’t know, is a music genre that started in the early 1990s. It’s a combination of reggae and breakbeats – fast, moody and disorientating. This sound has, traditionally, been played in warehouses to pleasure-seeking ravers resistant to authority. 

By 1996, a few years after its inception, the sound evolved, and the era of ‘jungle’ came to a close. Commercialised, disfigured by modern production techniques and stamped out by the 1994 Criminal Justice Act; drum and bass (a faster and more polished version of jungle) took its place. 

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IS IT UP TO ASEAN COUNTRIES LIKE THAILAND TO TURN THE TIDE ON OUR PLASTIC PROBLEM?

by Lotty Clare

Back in August much of the Asia Pacific region, and the world, was captivated by the death of a baby dugong called Mariam. Washed up on the beach in southwestern Thailand, the ill and orphaned dugong gained the attention of the public, complete with live webcasts, only for her to die a few months later due to plastic poisoning. 

In a stark contrast to the depictions of idyllic white-sanded Thai beaches, this story seems to have captured the hearts of many and has added momentum to the growing anti-plastic movement in Thailand and the Asia Pacific region.

Plastic pollution is a huge problem, and humanity’s plastic production is expected to grow over the coming decades. Plastic is now in the deepest parts of the ocean, in our food, in our bodies, even our water and air. 8 million tonnes of the stuff is estimated to end up in the ocean every single year, an amount set to double by 2030. By 2025, there will be one tonne of plastic for every tonne of fish in our oceans.

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I HOPE WE CHOOSE LOVE REVIEW

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by Alex Valente

Content warning: suicide

On the evening of Friday, 18th October 2019, I attended Massy Books launch of Kai Cheng Thom’s latest book I Hope We Choose Love – A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World, a collection of non-fiction and short poetic pieces that together form a net of radical hope-building for a time – and it has been a long time, as rightly noted in the introduction – when all hope seems lost. I follow Kai Cheng’s work online already, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the event. I’m glad to say I’m still not entirely sure what happened.Continue Reading

RACIST FOOTBALL CHANTS ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IN BULGARIA

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence

On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.

The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.Continue Reading

ROJAVA: A REVOLUTIONARY VISION UNDER FIRE

by Yali Banton-Heath

It’s been over a week since Turkey launched a fresh military offensive targeting Kurdish forces in northeast Syria. The death toll in Rojava is rising, and an exodus of civilians from the area has already reached a mass scale. Conflict in Syria thus deepens, becoming ever more complex, with the Syrian regime armed forces now reported to have moved into Kurdish controlled Manbij in order to counter the Turkish invasion. But what has sparked this new wave of insurgency? What role does the US have? What are the Kurds fighting for? And what significance does this have for the wider global justice movement? 

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COLONIALISM, CORRUPTION & CHAOS: THE DISILLUSIONMENT OF IRAQI YOUTH

by Sarah Edgcumbe

During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.

The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Continue Reading

THE REVIVAL OF ’90S ASIAN UNDERGROUND CLUB SCENE: DJ ISURU ON “MISHTI DANCE”

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

The alternative British Asian pop genre, Asian Underground, held a significant place back in the early-mid ‘90s as a uniquely transgressive genre combining Indian classical instrumentation, jazz, the contemporary sounds of dub, drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, interspersed with crooning Bollywood-style vocals. The genre blew up and enjoyed mainstream popularity in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, exerting significant influence on Western hip hop, R&B and urban music at the time. DJ Isuru Perera, better known simply as DJ Isuru, is one of the leading figures in today’s Asian Underground revival, having collaborated with a range of DJs and performers aspiring to reintroduce this strand of ‘90s Dance music to a younger generation. He is also a regular presenter on SOAS radio, where he hosts various (mainly British Asian) musicians from different eras, playing their music with accompanying track-by-track analysis. 

I caught up with Isuru to discuss Asian Underground history and his latest initiative, ‘Mishti Dance’, a series of evening events held in East London. Isuru neatly articulates its ethos as ‘a return to the experimentation of the Asian Underground in the face of commercial clubbing’. The format of Mishti Dance comprises a community-based arts and performance space featuring both poets and DJs, in a radical defiance of the rigid, distinct cultural categorisation of arts events as either high arts- or club music-based.

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ANTIGYPSYISM WILL NOT BE CURED BY NEOLIBERAL WISHFUL THINKING

by Jonathan Lee

There is a mendacious yet persistent fantasy that Roma could be saved from the horrors of racism and discrimination if only they weren’t so poor. It is the conservative idea that the free market can cure racism, that racism is purely a product of economic disparity, and that if only Roma were more economically engaged, most of the nasty symptoms of antigypsyism would simply fall away. Continue Reading

THE RISE OF POPULISM IN 21ST CENTURY POLITICS

by Matt Musindi

Politics has become more divisive and polarised than ever, and it is the populists who have been the main beneficiaries of these political divisions. A populist is someone who consistently promises to channel the unified will of the people. Going off this definition, most political parties in liberal democracies are populist and yet this is not the case – why?Continue Reading

SIHLABELELA REVIEW

by Alex Day

An exciting commission, held at St Peter Hungate, features a sound installation responding to the history of the church and what these spaces mean in our secular times.

St. Peter Hungate, like many churches in Norwich, no longer conducts services. It is occupied by Hungate Medieval Art, who exhibit stain glass windows and icons, to a more secular public. It’s both a religious site and a heritage site. Throughout this year, a project called Heriligion has commissioned five artists to reflect on the history of this space.

From 19th July to the 25th August, Mira Calix presented ’Sihlabelela’, a sound installation. 12 tape machines (Sony cassette-corder TCM –939), suspended on plinths, play discordant, low quality sound – a collage of echoes. The recorded voices sing ‘we sing together’, over and over, like a ghostly choir. The tapes evoke the crowds that once sang here.

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BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, YESTERDAY, AND BRITISH SOUTH ASIAN REPRESENTATION IN CINEMA

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

Racial diversity in Western cinema has been particularly contentious since the Oscars scandal of 2016, when not one actor of colour was nominated for an award. But this was especially shocking falling in the midst of a marked increase in diversity, illustrated recently by two major hit films of this summer: Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light and Danny Boyle’s Yesterday. By now, critics have noted the similarities between the two films: British South Asian male protagonists, small-town lives, fanaticism around sensational twentieth-century Western musicians. However, these comparisons have obscured fundamental differences, not only in genre, but also in their approaches to South Asian identity.

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TRANSPARENT TRANSACTIONS

by David Breakspear

As an active prison reform campaigner, I have wanted the fences and walls which surround our prisons to become metaphorically invisible. But why is this important to me?

As a former prisoner who, due to sentence and not a conviction, will always have to disclose parts of my criminal record, and who will forever have my life open to scrutiny, privacy is not an option; I had or have no choice in the matter. If I’m asked, I must tell. This despite the fact that I am not involved with the system as a ‘resident’ or ‘service-user’ anymore and no longer considered a risk to society. A reformed character, my new label? Continue Reading

KISS MY GENDERS REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The existence of the gender spectrum beyond the simple male/female binary is now more visible in mainstream media and popular culture than ever before. And whilst life for non-binary and trans folks is still difficult, even dangerous, there seems to be more cultural awareness (if not sensitivity) about various trans identities within cis circles. In the Hayward Gallery’s Kiss My Genders exhibition, this visibility of the gender spectrum takes centre stage.

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PROBLEMATIC “PEACEBUILDING”: WHEN THE POWERFUL DON’T ASK AND WON’T LISTEN

peacebuilding afghanistan

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Afghanistan, a country that has been in and out of the news since the 9/11 terror attack and subsequent U.S.-led coalition invasion, is once again at the forefront of media attention this month, as a result of Trump’s decision to cancel peace talks with the Taliban on 9th September. The relentless violence and bombings conducted by Afghan state forces, U.S.-backed Afghan militias, Taliban, religious extremist groups, career criminals and other groups are no longer considered to be remarkable events; they happen so frequently that the international audience has become desensitized to them. Continue Reading