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.
by Craig Adlard
This year’s War of Words – The Progressive Media Conference welcomed a panel of four activists to discuss direct action and concerns surrounding the current activist scene. While noting that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) is in some way appreciated, one major theme of the discussion was that XR is failing to take along vulnerable and minority groups. There’s a feeling that the movement is too white and middle-class, and is unsettlingly weak on climate injustice messaging. As someone on the radical left but also actively on board with XR locally, I wanted to write this piece to largely reaffirm those criticisms, but from an insider’s viewpoint. Far from being single-minded and unreflexive, discussions within the group show that XR is very much seeking to learn and grow.
by Liv Barnett
Academics are often accused of failing to make their research matter to audiences other than themselves. Anthropologists are particularly criticized for writing theories and ethnographies that not only go unread by non-anthropologists, but are also too inaccessible to those they may be writing about. Here I hope to try and explain a central aspect of my PhD research in Papua New Guinea and share some of the ways it has got me thinking about politics and economics in the UK.
The stereotyped anthropologist gets criticized for using the experiences of a usually colonised ‘other’ for their own project of producing knowledge that counters the taken for granted understandings people have of humanity or society in ‘the West’, which are presumed to be universal to human nature. This is a legitimate argument which has to be taken seriously. Therefore, I self-consciously use some of my observations in Papua New Guinea (enabled by the generosity of those who I lived with in PNG) and the ideas of European/western social theorists.
by Jess O’Dwyer
The Earth is our nurturer, inspirer and protector, yet we are actively and consciously driving ourselves towards her (and our) oblivion. Extreme weather is the new normal: we’re chopping down trees faster than we’re planting them and we’re still burning fossil fuels despite the common knowledge that they are damaging to the atmosphere and are causing our own children to struggle to breathe.
Content warning: mentions sexual harassment, homophobic abuse
This week, the KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign released a short film revealing the struggles of migrant cleaners at King’s College London, a day before management made a recommendation to the College Council as to whether to end the outsourcing of cleaning. Through the film, cleaners speak in their own words about the violence of the outsourcing model and how mistreatment at KCL is normalised.
Being an ‘activist’ is a crucial part of my identity. It can be a difficult thing to be, in a society where ‘politics’ is a dirty word and its practice is often at best frowned upon, but I’m glad I’ve made it to this place. To be part of wider movements, making friends with incredibly talented, dedicated and inspiring people and, in my own flawed, stumbling way, trying to make the world a little bit better, is an enormous joy and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.
by Stu Lucy
For the best part of the tail end of the twentieth century, rich countries in various guises have lent considerable sums to leaders of African countries, elected or otherwise, in order that they ‘develop their infrastructure’. Over the years numerous heads of state have accepted these tempting offers, skimming a little off the top for themselves and their cronies, leaving the rest to fulfil some grand construction touted by politicians as intrinsic to ensuring the economic success and prosperity of their beloved country.
Home to the source of the river Nile, Uganda has had its fair share of such development projects, most commonly in the form of hydroelectric dams. Since construction of the Owen Falls dam, the first to harness the power of the mighty river built under colonial rule in 1954, numerous other power stations have been constructed with help from international lenders such as The World Bank, alongside numerous import-export banks of countries set to profit from the dam’s construction.