Marxism for Beginners

blocksWhy when I look for trinkets for the kids can’t I find the things I assume would be best sellers in a certain bourgie corner of London?

For example, a set of building blocks with pictures of Marx, Engels, Mao…?




Update: And Giles is first with a design, though I had to get him to swap M.N Roy for his inclusion of Gandhi


On the Courtyard, talk at Tate from January

On 26 Jan 2013, a talk at Tate Modern on the Sharjah Art Foundation Biennale proposed theme of New Cultural Cartographies. My views, given late in the day, reliant on Gayatri Spivak’s hugely influential work, and following talks by the excellent Sarat Maharaj, Yuko Hasegawa and Wael Shawky (interviewed). Slightly combative and with a slip in putting the Danes in Chandenaggor, it is the talk I wish I could have parsed for Princeton – but that was not recorded, even though some people asked for it (thanks Anisha, Saleh, Ben). Click here for the audio Tate link.

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 23.19.39

Common Ground Film Series

Common Ground Film Series


Film series leading up to Common Ground Conference on 24-25 June 2013.

Event Information

Location: Council Rm, n/a, Laurie Grove Baths
Cost: Free. All Welcome
Department: Centre For Cultural Studies


  • 3 June 2013, 19:00 – 22:00
    The Black Power Mixtape
  • 10 June 2013, 19:00 – 22:00
  • 17 June 2013, 19:00 – 22:00
    Five Obstructions
  • 24 June 2013, 19:00 – 22:00

Manual Labours

manual labours8-12 April, 10-6pm
 Peltz Room, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD
FREE Public Events (no need to book):
Wednesday 10 April, 7pm
The Trainee – Screening and Discussion | Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Marina Vishmidt will discuss Pilvi Takala’s performance and film ‘The Trainee’ (2008) in light of her research into how art models the anomalous labour conditions of financialized capitalism.Friday 12 April, 1-2pm

The Working Lunch | Peltz room, Birkbeck University, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Public lunch hour and discussion led by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.  Food provided!
Manual Labours is a long term research project exploring people’s physical relationships to work, initiated by Jenny Richards and Sophie Hope. This project reconsiders current time-based structures of work (when does work start and end?) and reasserts the significance of the physical (manual) aspect of immaterial, affective and emotional labour.
Manual Labours starts with a 35 hour ‘working week’-long investigation into the embodied, sensory, emotional affects of work which will include meetings with our co-workers, a 9 mile walk to work, film screenings and a Public Lunch Hour.
Through this project we are interested in exploring the transformation of labour processes through an investigation into the ‘physical’ relationship to work in order to map complex and overlapping experiences of work/life entwinement. During this first public manifestation of Manual Labours we will be building an archive of films and publications, alongside public screenings and discussions with co-workers to inform ways in which we can recapture a sense of agency within our current positions.   Developing research in a public setting through performative actions, each day of our week-long presence at Birkbeck focuses on one worker stereotype in order to research how these different ‘posts’ are de-stabled through everyday practices.Two public events hope to generate conversations and contributions which will shape the evolvement of Manual Labours and allow us to explore the shared, collective concerns and tactics for reclaiming a critical and sensory experience of work/life.  Join us on Wednesday 10th April 7pm when writer Marina Vishmidt will discuss Pilvi Takala’s film ‘The Trainee’ and on Friday we’ll be offering a communal lunch hour with home cooked food and a discussion reflecting on the week’s activities led by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.

Visit for full details of the daily programme.
Films accessible within the Manual Labours archive include: ‘Sweet Sugar Rage’ (1985) by the Sistren Theatre Collective which explores different theatre methods to highlight the harsh conditions facing female workers on a Jamaican sugar estate, distributed by Cinenova;  Moira Zoitl’s ‘Exchange Square’ (2007) exploring domestic workers in Hong Kong; Can Altay’s ‘We’re Papermen, He said’ (2003) which follows the operations of unofficial recyclers and rubbish men in Ankara; extracts of Marie Barrett’s ‘Remnant’ (2008), documenting oral histories of the closure of the garment factories in North-West Ireland and Kennedy Browne’s ‘How Capital Moves’ (2010), a film which uses anecdotes of redundancy and insecure working conditions to explore the precarious nature of working for a multinational company.
Manual Labours is supported by the Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice, Birkbeck (, Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.
For updates on the weekly programme of talks, discussions and screenings visit
To find out more, get involved or contribute, please contact