Monthly Archives: April 2011

For those that hounded Hasan Elahi

I offer you this documentation of last night’s dinner. I do this in solidarity with Hasan Elahi who, as I read in Amitava Kumar’s excellent new book (mentioned below in the Ruthless post), was detained for questioning after visiting an Artist’s Residency program in Senegal and subsequently became subject of a 6 month FBI investigation after being falsely accused of having fled the country leaving explosives behind in a locker… ‘In order to prove to his interrogators, over the course of dozens of interviews, what he had been doing on that particular day as well as the days that followed, Elahi showed them all the information he had on his PDA … And when the investigation was over, Elahi began working on documenting publicly his every move … His aim is to overwhelm those who have him under surveillance … [he says] “If 300 million people were to offer up the details of their private lives, you would need to hire another 300 million people just to keep up”‘ (Kumar -2010, p28-29 A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb).

It seems to me this is the entire rationale of Facebook, but it is also another example of the Scheherezade complex I discuss here and here, and in the new book soon.


Thursday 07 April 2011, 6 – 9pm,

V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA


Time Out First Thursdays at V&A Museum of Childhood

It’s Your Write: A Celebration of the Self-Published!

Artists, Musicians, Performers and Writers get political this April

Thursday 07 April 2011, 6–9pm

This March witnessed record-breaking numbers attend The Papered Parlour’s ethical fashion evening at the V&A Museum of Childhood, now the Parlour girls return to the East London venue to host ‘It’s Your Write’, a mini festival celebrating a new wave of DIY counter-culture and craftivism. Sing, stitch and scribble your way into the political arena with the help of London’s creative elite!

Engage in workshops, join in panel discussions, watch performances, and browse over 20 stalls from independent creators to the beat of a live music backdrop from Noah and The Whale’s Indie label ‘The Young and Lost Club’, who will bring new bands Planet Earth, Hot Feet and Florian LunaireNick Hornby’s Ministry of Stories will kick off the night with a collaborative writing workshop, and you can make badges and banners thanks to The Craftivist Collective and Craft Guerrilla’s Zeena Shah. Be inspired by folk champion Sam Lee as he sheds light on the rich political history of Romany Gypsy and Traveller music, write that letter you haven’t had time for at the aptly named Letter Lounge, or find out how to make a ‘zine’ worth reading thanks to self-publishing collective, The Alternative Press.

The Papered Parlour will be running a live blogging station on the night and Guardian investigative journalist of the moment Shiv Malik will be discussing the changing nature of protests with founding member ofStop the War Coalition Chris Nineham, environmental activist and Climate Rush founder Tamsin Omond, and the most talked-about activist group of the past year, UK Uncut.

Discover the ‘do it yourself’ movement by joining in a creative night led by singers, songwriters, authors and digital artists as they take over the museum and present an alternative perspective on global city living free of the big corporations.

More About the Evening

-        Lindsey German will be talking about her career as the UK’s most prominent female activist.

-        Cool indie band Planet Earth will lead a workshop on protest song writing.

-        The Women’s Library and The Institute for International Arts (Iniva) will share highlights on collecting

women’s zines, dating back to Riot Grrrl.

-        Illustrator and designer David Janes will discuss his political portrait series, 650 Gargoyles.

-        Typewriter artist Keira Rathbone will be in residence with her vintage typewriter.

-        AND Publishing discuss the wave of book piracy hitting emerging countries and explore text


-        Interventions from The University for Strategic Optimism and Climate Rush.

-        Plus the It’s Your Write Book Swap and The World’s Largest Knitted Poem courtesy of The Poetry Society.

Notes to Editor

It’s Your Write: A Celebration of The Self-Published is a mini-festival that brings together artists, activists and the general public to discuss self-publishing and activism through the frame of art and design. Organized by The Papered Parlour, the event aims to engage audiences with lively cross-disciplinary discussions and hands-on workshops that promote an active and imaginative approach to art and activism.  It’s Your Write: A celebration of the self-published takes place at:

V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath  Road, London E2 9PA /

About The Papered Parlour: Enter through a small green door off an alley in the heart of Clapham and step into The Papered Parlour – a creative paradise packed to the rafters with nimble fingered artists from a diverse range of design fields. Since opening in May 2009 The Papered Parlour have been developing a series of ambitious workshops across all areas of art and design, pushing back the limits of creative learning to get as many people as possible involved in DIY design.  Our varied programme of workshops and events reflects our desire to create incredibly engaging arts events that everyone can get involved in.  Feel free to take a look around and check out what we do – and if you like what you see, come along and join in.


Talks & Panel Discussion

Chris Nineham (@chrisnine) – One of the UK’s most established and high-profile political activists. He is national organiser of the Stop the War Coalition (‘Britatin’s Biggest Mass Movement’) and was a founding member of the Stop the War Coalition and Counterfire.

Shiv Malik (@shivmalik1) – Investigative journalist of the moment, Shiv Malik has a column in the Guardian, and regularly contributes to New Statesman. Shiv recently co-wrote the book, The Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth.

Lindsey German (@lindseygerman) – One of the most prominent female socialists in the UK, Lindsey German was editor of the Socialist Review for twenty years. She has twice stood as the Left Wing candidate for Mayor of London.

Aaron Peters of UK Uncut (UKUncut) – The most talked-about UK activist group of the past year. The use of social media is central to UK Uncut’s communication with its audiences and supporters.

Tamsin Omond (@tamsinomond) – Environmental activist, author of Rush: The Making of a Climate Activist, and Climate Rush founder.

Chaired by Academic Director and Convenor of PhD Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, John Hutynk.


Artist Talks/Demos

David Janes (@davidsjanes) – Illustrator and designer, discussing his political portraits and self-publishing.

Sam Lee ( – Exploring the use of folk music in the Romany Gypsy and Traveller as a means of political protest, and performing a sampling of songs from the genre.

The London Women’s Library (@WomensLibrary) and Iniva (@StuartHallLib) – Discussing their extensive collection of feminist zines with samples of the zines to consult.

FineCell Work (@finecellwork) – Find out more from this charity using embroidery and cross stitch in prisons through London.

University for Strategic Optimism (@UFSO) – A performance based on the principle of free and open education.

Keira Rathbone (@KRTypewriterArt) – Will be in residence with her vintage typewriter.

Free Workshops

The Ministry of Stories (@Mini_Stories) – Learn more about the secret Ministry through this collaborative writing workshop.

Craft Guerrilla’s Zeena Shah (@heartzeena) – Stitch Your Message onto a badge with Zeena.

The Craftivist Collective (@craftivists) and Climate Rush (@ClimateRush) – Make patchwork train carriages for the Rushette’s Railway Adventures project campaigning against escalating rail prices.

AND publishing ( – Interactive workshop and talk on book piracy.

Alternative Press ( – ‘Make a zine in a night’ with Jimi Gherkin, including spontaneous contributions from workshop leaders, speakers and stallholders for the official It’s Your Write zine to be assembled and distributed at the end of the night.

Letter Lounge (@letterlounge) – When was the last time you wrote a good old fashioned letter?

Planet Earth – Write a new protest song that will be performed at the end of the evening by Planet Earth.


The Young and Lost Club DJ set (@YALCRecords)

Florian Lunaire

Hot Feet

Planet Earth

Plus 20 specially selected self-publishers and DIY artists, campaign stalls including

The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies pop-up shop

Zeena Shah

Economic Thought Project

Lorna Crabbe

Mark Applegate

Ed Boxall

Mary Kilvert

Landfill Editions

Fat Quartet

Eye Ball

AND Publishing

Strange Fruit

Katriona Chapman

Alternative Press

Neil McNally, Ouse Records

The Women’s Library and Iniva

Acorn Press

Climate Rush


Ruthless: Written for TT (draft)

Critique of Everything.

Cultural Studies, as the generic name for a range of challenges to thinking that operate through innovative practices of inquiry, analysis and investigation, in a wide range of materials, styles and forms, is under threat in the UK, along with much else. I write and wonder how this extends, and in some ways follows from, forced transformations in other places. As I set down this brief and exploratory meditation, I intentionally choose the format of a provocation so as to underscore what I think and feel is most important. The challenge to thinking that seeks to think differently than we do now. A built-in opposition to complacency. I also write as the Conservative-Liberal Democratic alliance that governs these Islands is introducing an unprecedented raft of cuts, marketization and operationalization of higher education, alongside swingeing cuts in most other sectors of society, and wages war on, now, at least three fronts – Afghanistan and Iraq, of course, and also in Libya. There has not been a more relevant, nor disquieting time, to be a practitioner of critical theory.

We are of a discipline, or are advocates of an inter-disciplinarity, that promised much. How does it fare in interesting times? (‘Everything under heaven is in chaos. The situation is promising’). In all fields of relevance for the practices of cultural studies, the dual context of austerity and war economy demands attention. The No-Fly zone that includes arming recently adopted, and largely unknown, rebels offers a metaphor for the disciplinary regulation of scholarship and the constraints of funding for research. The directives for research funding bodies to adopt themes of interest to government, with an eye to national economic priority, commercial and vocational application, and issues of national security, amount to knowledge twisted to the service of Empire. Disquiet amongst colleagues and protests in the streets, occupations on the campuses, refusals of regulation, threats, strikes, despair, all suggest a volatility that needs to be cut with a knife, or a pen. A double and somehow dialectical impasse that, we should be reassured, the critical and inquisitive, creative spirit of cultural studies is dedicated to undo.

Concurrently, new work on identity and subjectivity suspended within institutional structures and border regimes address bodies and affect with a political sensibility. We write in a war zone, with a siege mentality. The containment of movement in volatile times opens up fissures of feeling and meaning, passionate encounters as well at intractable blockages. One astonishing example of recent work that illustrates a challenging venue for cultural studies is the architectural practice of the group ‘Mes-Architectures’ in France. A body-conforming flight container for deportation, designed for in-hold air cargo, viciously critiques the exclusion, deportation and repatriation regimes of Fortress Europe. The troubling shape of this container, that is so familiar from the catering boxes roughly loaded from the tarmac beneath the plane, recalls the body shape of the Stateless in stasis, prone, trussed, beaten, and soon to be dumped in who knows what no-man’s land from which again and again economic refugees start out endlessly and too often fruitlessly for the apparent richer promise across the border. That every step of the way is subject to costing, charging, extortion and loss is only part of the tragedy. That hostile reception awaits, and that cold-hearted calculation has replaced policies of compassion, are the affective indicators of a moribund culture. Many years ago the discipline of the body was made a theme for Cultural Studies by Michel Foucault. Fruitful work since then has adapted the comportment and affective co-ordinates of contemporary life to be staples of analytic investment. Inquiry troops the colours of social science up the flagpole of anticipation, but then nationalizes the curriculum. Restrictions on visa application, closure of so-called ‘fake’ colleges, privileged export education market for some, declining recruits for others – the UK Border Authority demanding University staff report attendance records for all foreign students. The fall-out here is immense, teaching as surveillance, the border in the classroom. Keeping with the architectural, I have long been inspired by Eyal Weizman’s book Hollow Land (Verso) which is one of several new appraisals of border-politics that embraces theoretical and political engagement. But it also reconfigures – like all good books should – the very possibility of thinking about this topic. We must want destabilizations such as this – Weizman’s book I mean, not the tensions at eh check-point. That the geography of Palestine and the politics of the Israeli military can be rendered three-dimensional shows both the enormity and the stakes of the border as contest. A propositional art work or a pre-propositional theory can cut through the barriers to make space for thinking and to welcome other ways of intervening.

It is the cross-imbrication of interests, politics and practices that invigorates Cultural Studies and offers the possibility of relevance. New media and on-line activisms inspired by philosophical commentary and activist mischief creatively re-tool the cultural industries and challenge marketization. Open source in the political field opens up new vistas for the sociology of struggles and trades union herstories. Multimedia and direct-to-camera journalism, albeit co-ordinated on corporate platforms adopted uncritically (Web 2.0 FB, YouTube) alongside global news outlets seeking untested, and so fresh, talking heads, offers geography reconfigured as a time slot schedule as much as geopolitical mapping. In Jonathan Beller’s book The Cinematic Mode of Production, attention to the gaze an the market of the spectacle advances both film theory and situationist ideas to offer a platform for understanding new media as a terrain of struggle in market, ideology and practice. Just as we willingly go and sit in the dark before the cinema, we also comply with the protocols of the digital. Virtual selves abroad in the world while backache and repetitive strain compensate for touch type immediacy. The world shrunk to a venture start-up as if the assembly of work-station and media-console wasn’t also co-ordinated with wiring configurations, electricity grids and mining industries that make the corralling of workers in all kinds of underpaid labour also part of an integrated geo-circuit.

Libya this week, Bahrain last week, Cairo and Tunisia the week before. We have seen amazing scenes unfold on the global news channels that beam images from elsewhere into our palms, laps, desk-tops and living rooms. The whole world is televised, sometimes from our own street view, as distraction and investment. This scene-setting is often then filtered into a streaming and screamingly traumatic tension, for example the Japanese quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, as well as the hypocritical grotesque – the  farcical rerun of tragedy in David Cameron’s citation of George Bush seniors’ ‘line in the sand’ comment to justify the full-frontal launch into yet another military imbroglio (Bush Snr in February 1991 re Kuwait, Cameron March 2011 referring to Libya). It may seem that each world leader now needs to access their own brand development option of a legacy war, but of course analysis also shows that arms sales, commercial imperatives, political positioning, and playing to camera for domestic concern are also shaping factors. Even in London the so-called anarchist so-called rioters who broke one or two windows and threw a few missiles during otherwise ‘peaceful’ demonstrations are playing out largely media-tested tropes. That these events are unconnected both near and far is a position held by perhaps only by the fabled nobody of narrative myth. The distraction machine as a weapon of war is our topic.

Television and screens in the context of the short circuit of attention and the long circuit of sociality are pertinent and deserving of close inspection. Our often too quick assumptions that alienation and disaffection are the consequence of corporate media capture of youth can be challenged and debated. A range of possible, creative, apparent misuses of media become interesting. The social in media sounds out a sonic probe for the long-distant and non-locative, non-proximate conviviality of electronic company. We can be together over space, indeed we always have been, even as we value the immediate in a knowing staginess. The pastoral nostalgia for the community is challenged by the specificities and distribution of cosmopolitan competence in so many places. Empathy across airwaves can be as constitutive as close physical contact – and as violent, destructive or mundane. As half a million people marched in London against the cuts on March 26th (this was the Government’s own estimate so we might expand the number) the attempt to distract focus from a large working class refusal of Government policy is set to backfire where the demonization of rioters and rebels is carefully examined. In my experience, the street mobilizations have brought with them an increased analytical engagement – an attention to politics and to meaning that had perhaps been dormant, or buried in a kind of lethargy. The irruption of struggles into the public is itself an opportunity for Cultural Studies, though only in a reworked, re-imagined way. We are all in this together, as the slogan goes.

We can call this being together ‘culture’, but that word is looking decidedly worn – The Expediency of Culture is a very fine work by George Yúdice, critical of the way sponsored and strategic cultural deployments have had commercial and calculating imperatives. The work has released a number of subsequent studies that take on the bureaucratic deployment of culture for gain. In London this means the hype and boosterism of the Olympics, with local initiatives promising much but delivering little – early targets for social improvement quietly abandoned. There is a peculiar and hollow aspect in the sound of State endorsed cultural capital – the tragic and useless life of a salesman already at death’s door, peddling old wares without enthusiasm, not even able to pass for crack whore at the annual accounting meeting. As I write, perhaps unknown beyond the shores of this overworked Island, the current conservative Minister for Universities is featured in the press as having said that he thinks one of the problems for social mobility for men is a consequence of women working. It must be noted that he did say this on April Fool’s day, but perhaps I can be forgiven for not getting the joke. The conservative defence of the family takes on an absurd form, picking a sure to be incendiary fight with the gains of feminism and ignoring the Conservative destruction of the manufacturing sector in the first place. A resurgent feminism – for example the popular text of Nina Power, One Dimensional Woman, from Zero Books, offers a healthy riposte to such tomfoolery.

The point is to take all this together – the cuts, the war, the economy, the struggles. And to then use this resurgent multi-disciplinary enthusiasm for critical work that breaks with the mould of convention. I am reading Amitava Kumar’s new book A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, examines the new literatures that have emerged in the wake of the war on terror post September 11, 2001. By new literatures Kumar means ‘War Lit’ reporting, and ‘Terror Lit’ to which, consistent with his ever-creative drive, he adds to a genre that might be called ‘detainee lit’ – seeing out and interviewing a number of those unjustly or disproportionately incarcerated or persecuted in America and elsewhere by the legal and covert war administration. Among the heart-wrenching cases he reports is a range of photographic interventions curated in galleries that document the lives of detainees, and, in one striking example that deserves more attention, the deployment of photography as a research tool. Photography here is implicated in multiple ways in the production of terror, but some of these documentary practices turn that around. For example, Trever Paglin’s book Torture Taxi seeks out and exposes, thorough a range of media and the investigative techniques of nerdy Plane-spotters and private eye investigators, the ‘dark sites; of special rendition and the kidnapping of citizens of sovereign countries for transport to off-shore torture and disappearance. To turn to photography as a tool challenges it too-easy earlier ascription as fact. The mug shot, the exposé, the front page scoop – photography as evidence has been though the truth test of exploding indexicality. The picture must lie, the editing, cropping and perspectival conditions of partial view are almost so commonplace now they are again obscured. Documentary evidence turns out to be a question of ratings, as Endomol’s Big Brother franchise so successfully had shown, imaging celebrity and everyone in the same blank canvas persona. The most natural performance before the camera is now staged as self-knowing – and didn’t the paparazzi at Abu Ghraib know that, as did the military who hung the hapless Lynndie England out to dry but left the detention system intact.

To have mentioned the torture photos of Abu Ghraib does raise the question of specific responsibility on the part of Cultural Studies. Responsibility to the situation and the circumstances which we can work to know and redress. There remains a felt, but only sometimes explicitly articulated, need to attend to the counter stories of the war on terror without making them a publishing curiosity. I am not keen on conspiracy tales, but I am interested in the efforts of those who would caution and err on the side of proportion by insisting that the excesses of the war are a political strategy on the part of a paranoid capitalism. No need to overplay this drama, the numbers of the dead in the equation have their own tragic eloquence. We do have to look at the photographs and count the dead. There is possibly nothing more important that the injunction to have a look for yourself that is the heart of the investigative impulse behind all study of culture. Interpretation and analysis require working with those who practice, and although of course research can be practice, and indeed no one without the other, the imperative to look to the local meanings and articulate the detailed significance of always complicated predicaments is the beginning of informed and collective participation. I have in mind the careful work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, the patient effort to rearrange desire and inculcate a lexicon-consulting responsibility in those who would choose, as if any other choice was viable, to fight and write against injustice – her essay ‘Righting Wrongs’ is most salutary in this regard (in her book Other Asias). The narrative the attends to the displacements of desire is a wake-up call. If we are to take seriously the way Cultural Studies sometimes proffers proposals for a renewed democratic culture it means something more than a once every four years celebrity-popularity context that abdicates responsibility for governance to a bunch of barely accountable apparatchiks. The participatory democracy on the cards now, the only one that would challenge the war machine, the bureaucracy machine, the celebrity machine and the television screen, must be a truly militant and informed cultural studies for all. Everything must be studied, occupied, and debated. From all perspectives, and unrelenting. For this we need a critical questioning of everything, a ruthless criticism of all that exists, as Old Beardo once said (Marx’s letter to Ruge). Without a rampant intellectual embrace, Governance is ordering, disorder is control, thought is a box and life is dead. The bombs that are falling and the cuts that are cutting are no way to live, and the collective project of exploring how else to organise things is the only, multiple, extravagant, voracious and viable option.

I imagine these writers, artists, authors and theorists trudging the world as a new shock troop against complacency, never marching in formation but driving thinking and theory with a force towards the responsible and the rampant. Creative outrageous, extravagant and thorough – the stories told here are the ones we must live by. This is a performative Cultural Studies in many ways – a critical theory that has to use the stage to draw all into the possibility of engagement. I imagine a diaspora of the discipline, all secretly ready to adopt the orange jump suit as curatorial uniform, reminding us that detaining possible jihadists (many falsely accused) and depriving them of legal redress (let alone dignity) does not make anyone safer, though it does outrage and help politicise millions. To say this is not a reporting on the militant people’s of the world as some sort of fit-for-purpose surveillance, but it recognizes the hybrid here and there co-constitution of subject and consumption that produces and travels to draw metaphor and meta-theory together as practice. For the dialectic of a critical Cultural Studies, that would look back on the way forward and make the world different to now. Cultural Studies on the march, singing. Zindabad!

John Hutnyk

Occupation Cookbook from Zagreb

The Occupation Cookbook*
or the Model of the Occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social
Sciences in Zagreb
Introductions by Marc Bousquet and Boris Buden
Translated from the Croatian by Drago Markisa

The Occupation Cookbook is a “manual” that describes the organization of
the student occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
that took place in the spring of 2009 and lasted for 35 days. It was
written for two reasons: to record what happened, and to present the
particular organization of this action in such a way that it may be of
use to other activists and members of various collectives if they decide
to undertake a similar action.

What does it mean to “occupy” a school? A school occupation is not, as
the corporate media like to portray it, a hostile takeover. A school
occupation is an action by those who are already its inhabitants –
students, faculty, and staff — and those for whom the school exists.
(Which is to say for a public institution, the public itself.) The
actions termed “occupations” of a public institution, then, are really
re-occupations, a renovation and reopening to the public of a space long
captured and stolen by the private interests of wealth and privilege.
The goal of this renovation and reopening is to inhabit school spaces as
fully as possible, to make them truly habitable — to make the school a
place fit for living. — Marc Bousquet, from the Introduction

Cover and design by Dejan Krsic
Photos by Boris Kovacev

PDF available freely online
(, discounts
for ordering multiple copies.

Released by Minor Compositions, London / New York / Port Watson
Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing
from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of
everyday life.
Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia |


FLOODLINES is a firsthand account of community, culture, and resistance in New Orleans. The book weaves together the stories of gay rappers, Mardi Gras Indians, Arab and Latino immigrants, public housing residents, and grassroots activists in the years before and after Katrina. From post-Katrina evacuee camps to torture testimony at Angola Prison to organizing with the family members of the Jena Six, FLOODLINES tells the stories behind the headlines from an unforgettable time and place in history.

Dear Educator,

FLOODLINES: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six has been adopted in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses, at Amherst College, Smith College, University of Toronto, University of San Diego, Middlebury College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Xavier University, Tulane University, University of New Orleans and more. Please consider adding FLOODLINES to your course curriculum. Professors can request a free pdf exam copy, or order the book, available at $5 for consideration for college courses, by writing sarah[at] with their credentials.


An absolutely compelling and essential book for anyone interested in contemporary politics of resistance, and an
excellent addition to any syllabus in American studies, gender and sexuality studies, sociology, political science,
or ethnic studies.
– Kate Drabinski, Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Tulane University, New Orleans

Floodlines takes students to the heart of struggle, and emphasizes culture, community, resistance and resilience as the core of a city and its people. At the same time, Jordan Flaherty does not allow readers to distance the violence, racism, inequality and oppression highlighted in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the trial of the Jena Six as something that happens “over there.” Instead, he identifies them as specific manifestations of the way in which global capitalist imperialism reinforces hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation – and invites readers to examine how this is happening in their own communities also. In the process, he outlines a practice of solidarity that connects communities of resistance and opens a path forward for us all. Floodlines enrages and inspires. It moved my students to understand and to act. For that, it is more than an invaluable teaching tool: it is a gift.
– Sujani Reddy, Professor, American Studies, Amherst College

Jordan Flaherty has done what no academic, journalist, archivist, or artist has done so thoroughly or interdisciplinarily in the five years since Hurricane Katrina: he has linked the vibrant history of New Orleans to the ongoing post-Katrina present and taken it right into a future, which, despite the odds, he reveals to pulse with possibility. Floodlines is an extremely accessible text and reads like a story; I recommend it to anyone interested in social movements, culture, community, race, disaster, or anything at all having to do with U.S. politics in the twenty first century.
– Rachel E. Luft, Professor of Sociology, University of New Orleans


Floodlines opens with a history of New Orleans and closes with a quietly hopeful call to action. In between is a narrative of love, loss, anger, despair, indifference, murder and music…Floodlines is an electric piece of journalism. Not only does Flaherty tell a story that needs to be told, he does it with a style that reads like the best of reportage. There is lots of detail, yet it is never tedious. The writing here is reminiscent of two of the United States’ best journalists–Lincoln Steffens and I.F. Stone. Like the city Flaherty loves so much, this book has soul.
– Counterpunch

An invaluable addition to the history of racial justice work.
-Bitch Magazine

Floodlines reveals how events we see unfolding in the news are part of a complex history of Black cultures of resistance dating all the way back to the beginnings of slavery in the south. Outsiders and insiders alike will benefit from Flaherty’s uniquely personal and unabashedly political account of some of the most important untold stories of our time.
-Prison Legal News

While reading Floodlines, I was forced to confront how my understanding of New Orleans has been shaped by mainstream media reports that focused obsessively on individual acts of violence while ignoring the large-scale state violence imposed on mostly poor communities of color. I was moved by how Flaherty, a white journalist and organizer based in New Orleans, manages to tell a story that encompasses both the staggering injustice of structural racism and the inspiring grassroots activism of New Orleanians.
-Tikkun Daily

Jordan Flaherty plays a crucial role in documenting and contexualizing this potential power source for our movements. What we have witnessed in New Orleans needs to deeply inform our work as community-accountable organizers for justice everywhere.
-Make/Shift Magazine

There is hope in Floodlines, as we read the stories of people who are willing to fight the status quo, of the resistors and activists that envision a brighter future for New Orleans, a city rich in history and contrasts.
-Seattle PI

Indispensable to the historical record of a disaster and recovery effort that has become a devastating primer in American racism.

Flaherty is not another author looking to make sense of what went wrong. He’s here to declare the inconvenient truth that what went wrong didn’t make sense — and wasn’t making sense long before Katrina.
-The Root


As the floodwaters rose in New Orleans, Jordan Flaherty began to write, rescuing precious truths about the reality of racism and solidarity in his city that risked being washed away in the tide of formulaic corporate journalism. I can think of no journalist that writes with deeper knowledge or more love about this highly contested part of the United States. These remarkable stories of injustice and resistance must be heard.
– Naomi Klein, author “The Shock Doctrine”

Floodlines manages to chronicle the multiple system failures after the storm yet uplift by passionately detailing
the spirit and history of organizing by grassroots New Orleanians.
– Mab Segrest, author, Memoir of a Race Traitor

This is the most important book I’ve read about Katrina and what came after. In the tradition of Howard Zinn this could be called “The People’s History of the Storm.” Jordan Flaherty was there on the front lines. He compellingly documents the racism, poverty, and neglect at the core of this national failure and the brave, generous, grassroots revolutionaries who saved and continue to save a city and a people. It is my favorite kind of book – great storytelling, accurate accounting, a call for engagement and change.
-Eve Ensler, playwright, The Vagina Monologues, activist and founder of V-Day
Here’s the missing news from the Crescent City: folks are fighting back. Indeed, as Flaherty reminds us in this remarkable and noble book, the very soul of New Orleans is struggle. As southern Louisiana again faces a man-made catastrophe, his portraits of activism and hope could not be more timely.
Mike Davis, Author, “Planet of Slums”

Jordan Flaherty is a journalist who causes revolution with the printed word. This book is a testament to the power of the pen when its in the hand of a freedom fighter and a global thinker. While others are just writing these stories, Jordan Flaherty is living them.
– Jesse Muhammad, Final Call Newspaper

Jordan Flaherty’s first calling is as a dedicated community organizer, but he’s also a top-rate investigative journalist. The oppressed communities of New Orleans and larger Louisiana are fortunate to have this talented and compassionate reporter in their midst. This book is invaluable to the United States’ social justice movement that relies on his expertise, honesty, and truth.
-Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Author, “Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War”

FLOODLINES: Community & Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six
Book link here/
ISBN: 9781608460656 – Trade paper – 320 pages
FLOODLINES is a firsthand account of community, culture, and resistance in New Orleans. The book weaves together the stories of gay rappers, Mardi Gras Indians, Arab and Latino immigrants, public housing residents, and grassroots activists in the years before and after Katrina. From post-Katrina evacuee camps to torture testimony at Angola Prison to organizing with the family members of the Jena Six, FLOODLINES tells the stories behind the headlines from an unforgettable time and place in history.

JORDAN FLAHERTY is a New Orleans based journalist and organizer. He was the first writer to bring the story of the Jena Six to a national audience, and his award-winning reporting has been featured in outlets from the New York Times to Argentina’s Clarin newspaper. He has produced news segments for Al-Jazeera, TeleSur, and Democracy Now!, and appeared as a guest on CNN Morning, Anderson Cooper 360, and Keep Hope Alive with the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Great Wild Life Documentary from UfSO


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