Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Marx Trot

27276~Karl-Marx-Brand-Cigar-Box-Label-Karl-Marx-PostersTo mark the end of the course work part of their degree, MA Cultural Studies students have proposed the ‘Marx Trot’. This being a pub crawl with a revolutionary excuse. Having done significant research as per my brief to lead said Trot, I propose the following:

Marx is buried in Highgate. So we start  at the end. Meet at the East Cemetery gate at 4pm. Watch the film ‘High Hopes’ beforehand if need be. Bring cigars.

The Marx family would often walk from Haverstock Hill to Soho, so we can too. As its a nice day. We’ll walk through the park. Hamstead Heath in fact, though other parks might distract our thoughts. Marx took part in a Hyde Park demonstration against the Sunday Observance laws and wrote an article on the Anti-Church demonstration of July 1855. We can read this on the way and contemplate the production of nature.

At the far end of Hamstead Heath is a favourite pub of the Marx’s – so we could visit Jack Straws castle. I found the following info on a cursory search:

Jack Straws Castle

NW3

Jack Straw’s Castle ought to be the perfect place for an inspiring pint. The situation is good, the history intriguing and the ghosts distinguished. Karl Marx drank here on the corner of Hampstead Heath, high above the foul air of 19th-century London. So did Charles Dickens, Leigh Hunt and Max Beerbohm. Jack Straw himself – one of the leaders of the peasants revolt of 1381 – allegedly rallied his pitchfork-wielding mob from a haywagon nearby.

From here we can walk down Heath Street to Chalk Farm and Grafton Terrace.

Marx lived at 3 Roxburgh Terrace, now part of Prince of Wales Road Kentish Town. Then he moved to 9 Grafton Terrace. He drank at the Lord Southampton on the corner of Southampton and Grafton. We’ll obviously have to spend some time here.

Then we head to central London.

Marx fenced in a salon off Oxford street – in Rathbone Place (not far a from Tottenham Court Rd tube).

The Manifesto was drafted and approved at (according to internet gab – which I suspect is apocryphal):

The Red Lion, Soho [Closed] – pub details

Address: 20 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LQ

Not many people know this but this pub is where Marx and Engels and others used to meet, where the first meetings of the Communist Party were held and where the Communist Manifesto was initially drafted and approved. This is a historic building in the history of Politics and it should have a Blue Plaque on it. I hope the people that live there when its converted know the relevance of this place.

Now apparently reopened as an “AT One” – we could I suppose heckle them a little [its an awful bar - heckle a lot - they have no idea where they are, adn beers were 4 quid for a bottle of sol - pah!]

When he first came to London Marx lived on Dean Street – We can visit Marx’s House and Blue Plaque – its on the second floor.

Then across to the British Museum. Obviously. There will be a test on your recall of particular passages from the footnotes. Someone will recite the bees and architects passage.

And finally, though I disagree with much of what Comrade Germain has done with Stop the War (or rather unstop it), here I think there is a hint of what is to be done as the evening closes in – a crawl up Tottenham Court Road starting at the Rising Sun.

“Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were refugees following the defeated 1848 revolutions in Europe. Marx wrote Capital in the reading room of the British Museum. He and Engels enjoyed pub crawls on Tottenham Court Road” [from an article by Lindsay Germain]

And by then wee should be able to make up our own after dinner entertainments. I do think one day a less ad hoc version of this walk is necessary – and I will prepare it – but this seems ok for starters. Leaving now.

pap (D&G papparazzi)

bearsI was complaining to one of our brilliant students the other day that there was, at Goldsmiths, something of a viral effect of reading Deleuze and Guattari for the first time and deploying their work uncritically. Against the charge that I was dismissing them, I too quickly said ‘I am actually a fan of D&G, early D&G, but no fan of those who use them willy-nilly for pap‘ and did not explain what pap I meant. So, I have been suitably called to account and now provide some explication of pap. Fun it is too.

Pap is a kind of ooze made from crushed fruit or something.

It gets better when you turn to the books – Here are some dictionary definitions of pap:

1. Soft or semiliquid food, as for infants.
2. Material lacking real value or substance: TV shows that offer nothing but pap.
3. Slang Money and favors obtained as political patronage: “self-seeking politicians primarily interested in patronage, privilege, and pap” Fiorello H. La Guardia.
.
.
Pap:
1. a soft food for babies or invalids
2. worthless or oversimplified entertainment or information
3. S African maize porridge [Latin pappare to eat]
.
.
Pap rendered as ‘favours for money’ (the false coin of Governmentality) is particularly good, and topical. As is porridge (which is what the British MPs who rort the system ought to get). But at risk of making this whole post an example of pap, here is the clincher – the final one:
Noun 1. pap – worthless or oversimplified ideas

drivel, garbage – a worthless message
2. pap – a diet that does not require chewing; advised for those with intestinal disorders

diet – a prescribed selection of foods
Pablum – a soft form of cereal for infants
3. pap – the small projection of a mammary gland

reproductive organ, sex organ – any organ involved in sexual reproduction
mammary gland, mamma – milk-secreting organ of female mammals

CCS STATEMENT OF OPPOSITION TO THE NEW REGULATIONS IMPOSED AS A RESULT OF POINTS-BASED MONITORING

frompda%2B010To:  Goldsmiths, University of London

We are strongly opposed to the implementation of the new attendance monitoring policy and related policies that have been imposed on our university by the Home Office under the new points based immigration system recently introduced in the UK. We invite our colleagues in at Goldsmiths and across the University of London to join us in voicing their opposition to these policies and in fighting their implementation
The new regulations make us do a policing job in our classrooms, turning both academic and administrative staff into agents of the UK Border Agency. We object to this for reasons both political and professional. We are concerned that the regulations represent possible breaches of European human rights conventions and seriously threaten our students’ rights to mobility, privacy and education. Although recent changes to implementation of the law have expanded the scope of student monitoring and reporting–with the result that policies explicitly targeting the monitoring and reporting of information about non-EU students have been expanded to include the monitoring and reporting of information about all students–this does not disguise the fact that these policies are discriminatory in intent and will very likely be discriminatory in practice. International students are an integral and valued part of our community, and we do not accept any measures that will lead to the unequal treatment of non-EU students as a result of their enrollment on our degree programmes.

As will be evident to anyone involved in teaching and learning in a university environment, the new regulations are ill adapted to that environment and out of touch with the lived realities of our work. They detract from academic freedom and will have profoundly negative impacts on the relationship between staff and students, which should be one of trust, not of spying and control. The turnaround time stipulated for the reporting of student absences is unrealistic, and the new regulations will lead to increases in workload for both academic and administrative staff. In the case of our own academic unit, the very premises of attendance monitoring fundamentally misconstrue our mission as a postgrad teaching and research centre. Finally, the regulations raise questions as to the security of staff, placing them in a position where they are probing into and ultimately violating students’ rights. Because staff will be unwilling to inform on students in a way that results in their expulsion from the UK, the regulations may also have the effect of discouraging staff from enquiring after students’ well-being, interfering in our ability to carry out pastoral duties and threatening students’ security as well.

In raising these concerns, we join colleagues at Goldsmiths and at other higher education institutions in the UK, who have publicly stated their opposition on related grounds (Goldsmiths UCU; UCU Black Members’ Standing Committee; UCU Black Members, University of Kent; Manchester Metropolitan University; a coalition of institutions in Liverpool; as well as the Institute of Race Relations and the National Critical Lawyers Group). We also join, significantly to our mind, Goldsmiths Student Union, which in November 2008 passed a motion asking staff not to comply with the new rules.

Finally, the new immigration policies are of urgent concern to all at a time when our university communities are facing unprecedented economic pressure. Due to new (and excessively stringent) financial requirements of students applying for visas to study in the UK, the new policies will have negative impacts on recruitment. These will hit us immediately, at a time when we are under pressure to increase international student enrollments college-wide. The difficulties recently reported by postgraduate research students who have applied for visa renewals in the final months of their degree work are also worrisome and stand as further evidence that the new immigration rules will detract from the quality of teaching and learning and are ill-adapted to our mission as a university.

We sincerely hope that Goldsmiths will insist on being a teaching and research institution, and that it will maintain its commitments to its educational mission by opposing the implementation of the new Home Office regulations both on our campus and in the context of the growing national campaigns.

Scott Lash, Director, Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies

Centre for Cultural Studies Staff
Jennifer Bajorek
Josephine Berry-Slater
Matthew Fuller
Graham Harwood
John Hutnyk
Breda McAleer
Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay
Luciana Parisi
Lisa Rabanal
Adela Santana

Scouting Shame NYT.

14explorers_span

“‘There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism‘” (Benjamin p. vii)

A photograph of five young Americans in combat gear beside a ‘Homeland Security’ bus graces the front page of the New York Times on May 13 2009. This image catches my eye on a day when newly discovered atrocity photos from CIA ‘facilities’ in Afghanistan and Iraq should be published, but are not so as to avoid undermining the war effort and the troops at the front. Anxious excuses are conjured for spin and impression management… we get this unbelievable shot of Explorer scouts tooled up for the kill.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

I am taken by the photograph because it appears on the day the Obama administration plays the ‘don’t look’ card on terror (after a word from Pentagon chiefs, Obama backtracked and announced he would fight any release of the new set of detention images – this is reported on the same front page). But I am also curious about a quirky little detail in the bus picture. Look at the line of tooled-up scouts in the shot. The very last one doesn’t seem to think the situation is all that serious. A big grin on his face, forgetting the seriousness of the security role-play, has he tapped his colleague on the shoulder to say he likes his combat trousers? ‘Dude, I got these on special at ‘Old Navy” says his colleague. ‘Awesome’. I wonder if there is perhaps-possibly-maybe a little chink of critique, on the part of the NYTs photographer, in this edge-of-the-image smile? Such good terror-fighting teeth too. I would ‘hope’ we read this scene against the grain. Yes we can.

The article offers a great many other howlers – including strange juxtapositions: one such follows on from the news that neophyte Explorer Cathy is ‘attracted by the guns’ and says: “I like shooting them … I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.” We then get the observation that the police who supervise this ‘training’ have been exploring in their own perversions: “There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them”.

It seems though we are safe. This is after all only a role-playing game (with Arab dress-ups and other harmless panto fun). We are assured that ‘the training … is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting’. OK.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the same paper, another photograph of another line of troops catches my eye – a dead soldier is being returned to the US. RIP Michael P Yates, killed by one of his own in the counselling tent (image not online, but article here). The televisual reporting of the return of troop bodies was suppressed by a former President, but the correspondence between the line of Explorer scouts and the solemn line of the troops in the second picture is poignant. (Troops dead so far in Iraq and Afghanistan nearing 5000). This picture too appears a few pages before a full page ad taken out by a right wing group, suitably named the ‘Torture Truth Project’ that condemns those who would embarrass the US internationally by mentioning the ‘only three’ detainees that endured water boarding. The text of which is a special rhetoric all on its own when it tortures the truth by warning that ‘we are losing the goodwill of people across the world’. Welcome to the USA Today, in the NYTimes.

The Scouts, you may recall, are the spawn of Sir Colin Baden-Powell, also famous for having developed the detention camp at Mafeking over a century ago. Be Prepared. I remember this slogan from my own youthful disciplining as a scout (was mostly fun of course, smoking behind the troop hall) and I know my grandfather in the UK and father in Ukraine were also enthusiastic adventurers. Energy and curiosity turned into memoir.

Struggle for Justice is necessary. Free Gaza by whatever means. This time by donation.

dignity9

[Readers will know I do not endorse charity giving - see Rumour - but note the distinction between buying a boat for the Free Gaza movement and other good causes. This one must float. Lets buy a boat, ahoy].

AN URGENT APPEAL TO HELP BREAK THE SIEGE OF GAZA

Monday, 04 May 2009 15:47 Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2009 19:20 Written by Free Gaza Movement

“From the groundbreaking work of Gandhi and King to the ongoing example of the Free Gaza Movement, we can discern the transforming power of nonviolence at a crossroads in our history.”
-H.E. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly

Dear Friends,

we desperately need your help. It’s with heavy hearts that we have to inform you that the Free Gaza ship, the DIGNITY, has been lost outside Larnaca port in Cyprus. Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident.

On 30 December 2008 the DIGNITY was rammed by the Israeli navy while on a mission of mercy to deliver critically needed medical supplies and doctors to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. Thanks to the heroic efforts of its captain and crew, the DIGNITY was able to find safe harbor in Lebanon, later making its way to Cyprus for repairs. Early this morning we received a call from the Harbor Master in Larnaca, informing us that the ship was taking on water. While attempting to tow her to safety, the ship went down. An inquiry has begun into the circumstances surrounding her demise, possibly due to storm damage suffered during the night.

All of us in Free Gaza are deeply saddened by the loss of the DIGNITY. Since the Free Gaza Movement was founded in 2006 we have worked hard to overcome the siege of Gaza. Israeli policies of racism, ethnic cleansing and the brutal military occupation of Palestine demand our determined & direct resistance. When our governments fail to act, we – the citizens of the world – must stand up and make our voices heard.

To date, the Free Gaza Movement has organized seven voyages to Palestine, successfully arriving in Gaza Port five times. We have brought dozens of human rights workers, journalists, parliamentarians, and others to Gaza, as well as tons of desperately needed medical and humanitarian supplies. Free Gaza boats are the first international ships to sail to the Gaza Strip since 1967.

None of this would have been possible without you, our friends. Your emotional, political, and financial support is the foundation of all our successes.

We’re turning to you today, because we need your help now more than ever. Please visit our donate page for more information on how you can help ensure our continuing missions to Palestine. Please give generously.

Despite our loss today, we will not be deterred. In one month we will return to Gaza with the HOPE FLEET, a flotilla of cargo and passengers ships carrying significant amounts of humanitarian and reconstruction aid. Thanks to your support, we will go to Gaza again and again, until this siege is forever ended and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

This is our solemn promise.

Sincerely Yours,
Huwaida Arraf
Greta Berlin
Eliza Ernshire
Derek Graham
Fathi Jaouadi
Ramzi Kysia
Vaggelis Pissias
The interim Board of Directors for the Free Gaza Movement

PS: We’re suggesting a donation of €50, but please give what you can. Your contributions will go directly toward the purchase and overhaul of new ship that can break through the siege of Gaza and help connect Palestine with the rest of the world.

http://www.freegaza.org/

Crerative Practices Beyond Borders (sonic, theatre, doco) 21 May 2009

img_1595Event: though not exactly a public one – I am speaking about Creative Practices Beyond Borders to a meeting of the AHRC on 21 May at UCL. So, what to say – the brief is to talk about the project and what we have done with the coin they offered us (ahem).

Two meetings of a series of Beyond Text Network grant workshops have been held over the last year in London and Berlin, and the third is planned for Copenhagen in November 09. We have had guests from 12 countries, including as far away as India, Australia and Singapore. The network was has examined Creativity Beyond Borders and taken up themes from Music, Theatre and Film to rethink the ways that a number of different kinds of borders are conceived. In our discussions, the border was found to be porous, often contested, a contact zone, shifting and multiple. The ways that borders work between things, and between people, was found to be constitutive. We have had people sing in seminars, interrupt performances, walk the border of the city, present art works, and challenge preconceptions yada yada dada.

In ‘Sonic Border’ (London November 08), the theme of sound was conceived as a way to rethink the visual and geographic fixity of the border (pirate radio, for example, crosses the border in interesting ways), and the idea of vibration emerged as a possible model for opening up notions of analogue communication. A highlight was a presentation from Professor Les Back of his recordings of New Cross from the roof of the Goldsmiths Tower, using advanced sound equipment he was able to modulate a range of sounds – from sirens to school kids talking, that would normally be merely ‘din’ in what is the noisiest of London boroughs. Rangan Chakravorty and Paramita Brahmachari travelled from Kolkata to be with us, and Johannes Anyuru and Alexander Motturi introduced us to Clandestino. Camille Barbagello was great on the Cross Talk project and there were many other good things. At the end of the week another highlight was our trip to Coventry Cathedral to join the Noise of the past: Postcolonial War Requiem’ event, which included composition of a new War/Peace Requiem for the cathedral. We participated in the conference and attended the screening of films and the recital in the Cathedral. All very relevant to our discussions, this event with 800 people (organised by another AHRC project headed by Nirmal Puwar and Sanjay Sharma) was a great conclusion to our network meeting week.

At ‘Theatre Border’ (Berlin April 09) the performative apparatus was explored in a way that suggests a premium on attention. Those that cross the border perform in disguise, go covertly, or make use of diversions. Our ‘research’ here in part involved a series of guided investigative and documenting walks along parts of the ‘borders’ of Berlin, including the former wall. There were presentations about the wall from the Goethe Institute and from filmmaker activist Hito Steyerl, there were enactments of the border, and a peripatetic form of workshop organisation emerged, much to the delight I think of our guest from Kolkata, Rustom Bharucha, this followed by a brilliant visual (still and moving image) collation and presentation of the materials collected on the walks. These will be posted on the site in due course. Joan Marie Kelly came with images from Singapore and India and Miro Kaygalak and Raul Gschrey gave back to back provocations that worked really well.

There are lots of people to thank, and we thank them, and will continue to do so – more to come on the workshop page in the sidebar.

Two Talks at Goldsmiths – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on monday 11th May and Celeste Olalquiaga on tuesday 12th May 2009

rodneypostcardback1

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 4:00pm

a talk by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak called ‘Old Women‘ (11 May 2009, 4pm IGLT Goldsmiths)

then, the following day:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 3:00pm

a talk by Celeste Olalquiaga called ‘Look But Don’t Touch: the Role of Tactility in an Era of Visual Excess‘ (12 May 2009, 3pm, Cinema RHB Goldsmiths).

………………

There is a slick souvenir trinket postcard to advertise the event, with pic of “Rodney” from Celeste’s book “The Artificial Kingdom” – the postcard excellently prepared by Sharmadean and available at CCS – but you have all the details here. No need to book, come early to ensure a seat.

(these events co-hosted by Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Centre for Cultural Studies, Media and Communications Department, and The Graduate School of Goldsmiths (Spivak); and the Centre for Postcolonial Studies and Centre for Cultural Studies (Olalquiaga). All welcome.)

State of Nature

son

The good people at the journal State of Nature thought it a plausible idea to do an interview. A fine opportunity to talk about what I was reading (and writing) at the time. Happy May Day. See you at the parade.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,687 other followers

%d bloggers like this: