Last year, two-tone legends The Specials released an album entitled ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012’. It featured covers of tracks by Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Big Bill Broonzy and other legends of protest music – but not one song penned by a British person, despite the band’s Coventry origins. This, UEA Professor John Street tells me, was part of the impetus behind the project Our Subversive Voice: The History and Politics of the English Protest Song.
“Refugees Welcome” is a phrase commonly seen on placards at demonstrations held by the recently revitalised Cornish independence movement. Sometimes paired with other phrases such as “No More Second Homes”, “Fuck Yuppies” and “Tories Out”, the centrality of the statement “Refugees Welcome” at the forefront of the Cornish nationalism movement clearly flies in the face of conventionally liberal or left-wing wisdom, which automatically posits nationalism as right-wing and pernicious. We should instead recognise that “nationalism” doesn’t necessarily equate to ethno-nationalism, and that in parroting anti-nationalist rhetoric, we are likely regurgitating colonial propaganda. Anti-colonial movements fought for a collective nationalism defined by independence. Nationalism, then, cannot automatically be dismissed as a negative phenomenon.
By Howard Green
On December 16th, the UN General Assembly passed a proposal entitled ‘Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’. 130 out of 193 UN members voted in favour of it, and only two against: the United States and Ukraine. Similarly alarmingly, all EU member states and the UK abstained from the vote. Why are the nations who take so much pride in having defeated Nazism 75 years ago now refusing to vote in favour of combating it?
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.
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.
by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya
In the wake of the recent lockdown in Kashmir, the region long contested between India, Pakistan and its own people, in which communication has been drastically halted and public gatherings banned, Indian politics has found its way into international headlines. But the situation in Kashmir is just one aspect of a much broader, increasingly fascist regime run by a Hindu-supremacist, far-right government. Over the past five years under this regime, Muslims have been lynched by government-affiliated mobs for alleged beef consumption; persecution – and murder – of Dalits (members of the lowest castes) through similar means has soared; journalists have been assassinated for trying to tell the truth. This is why Deepa Mehta’s Netflix drama series Leila provides a timely and disturbing picture of a future India, situated only decades from now in 2047. Unlike many dystopian dramas, Leila is not set in a post-apocalyptic or reorganised world which encodes real socio-political dynamics within imaginary ones. Instead, it neatly locates contemporary Indian landmarks and structural oppressions within the complex fabric of a dystopian future state: Aryavarta, a set of strictly segregated communities governed by fully-fledged totalitarianism.
by Sarah Edgcumbe, Saba Azeem and Nidhi Suresh
CW: rape, torture
Since 5th August 2019, the Indian government has shut down Kashmir in the most repressive and terrifying fashion possible. 48,000 Indian troops have been moved into the state, making it, with 70,000 Indian troops already posted there, the most densely militarized zone on Earth. These troops are now operating under a “shoot-to-kill” policy and hundreds of Kashmiri human rights activists, academics and business leaders have been arrested. Meanwhile, the Indian government has simultaneously imposed a media and communications blackout, cutting off the internet and thus preventing Kashmiris from being able to communicate their suffering in real time to the rest of the world. Pakistan too revoked state subject rule from Gilgit-Baltistan (part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir) in 1974, in a move similar to India’s current strategy. However, in doing so, there was no media black-out nor curfews imposed. India, on the other , has jailed all Kashmiri leadership, transferring them to jails in New Delhi, as well as, according to a magistrate speaking on condition of anonymity, arresting and detaining over 4,000 Kashmiri citizens since 5th August.
By Sarah Edgcumbe
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2012, over three million civilians have fled the country. The vast majority are currently living in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Libya. Afghanistan has been subjected to war for four decades resulting in Afghans comprising the second highest refugee population in the world, yet the vast majority of Afghan refugees live in Iran and Pakistan. This resettlement of Syrian and Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries is no anomaly: the majority of refugees around the world reside in countries neighbouring their own. These countries often have poor economies and fragility of peace and governance, yet they often accommodate millions of refugees.
By Sarah Edgcumbe
“I love my country too much to be nationalist.” – Albert Camus, First Letter: July 1943.
The collective Letters to a German Friend were clandestinely written and published by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France. The context must be taken into account here: these letters do not discuss Germany as it stands today, but rather what it represented under the Third Reich – fascism and the intolerance of diversity and dissent. Camus himself states that the letters should be viewed as “contrasting two attitudes, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment in history, these two nations personified two enemy attitudes.”
By Jonathan Lee
Content warning: this article contains mentions of violence (including police brutality), and structural discrimination.
According to a new report, up to 20% of Ukraine’s Romani population are stateless – that is, they are without identity documents such as birth certificates, passports, or identity cards which prove they are citizens. The lack of evidence to prove their nationality means these Roma are denied access to basic services such as healthcare, education, housing, and welfare, as well as to regular employment or for some, even something as simple as a mobile phone contract.
After a series of organised attacks on Roma by far-right organisations in the past year, most of the country’s Roma who regularly spend the summer working in the major cities have now returned to their home region of Zakarpattiya on the South Western border. Whilst reports of fresh attacks came in over the summer, Roma living in settlements in Beregovo and Uzhgorod began to look abroad for the vital work which they needed to survive; work they were being denied by the far-right militias whom had driven them out of the cities.Continue Reading