Back in 2003 Imogen Bunting, whose birthday it would have been today, wrote this on the film INJUSTICE by Tariq and Ken. To date the film still has not been shown on UK television, despite all the awards and media acclaim and THE RELEVANCE OF IT STILL TODAY.
Originally posted 2006
This piece was written by Imogen for a possible book on the film Injustice. We approached 19 publishers for the book, but while screenings do occur now, because the film was banned/threatened for so long by the court injunctions of the Police Federation, no publisher seemed able to risk a publication. As you can see from below, the failure of the publishers (some respected left wing houses) was not because of the quality of the writing – here as ever Imogen was on the case.
Reporting black deaths in the British press: Injustice and the right to reply.
‘Black deaths do not have a good press, especially when they occur in the custody of our custodians…the media leads the public to believe that our guardians can do no wrong. Racism leads them to believe that blacks can do no right. The silence of the custodial system is compounded by the silences of racism’ (Sivanandan).
It is from within these silences that Injustice speaks. As Sivanadan’s resolute remark suggests, the film was, in part, a necessary response to the media’s selective and often dubiously scarce reportage. Why is it that the one thousand deaths in custody that have occurred since 1969 can largely have slipped through the pages of our national press whilst at the same time the deaths of Stephen Lawrence, Victoria Climbe and Damilola Taylor have, for instance, frequently made the front covers of both broadsheets and tabloids? When the key suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence were charged with committing a racist attack on an off duty black police officer the Daily Mirror’s front page announced ‘GOTCHA! Two down, three to go, as justice finally catches up with racist Lawrence thugs’. And yet, in the post-Macpherson world it is all too easy perhaps to be seduced by such jubilance. After all, justice for the death of Stephen Lawrence never did catch up with his killers. The justice just delivered was for a racial attack on a police officer. And, if we are to be cynical, it mostly provided a perfect space for the press to celebrate an apparently reformed Metropolitan police.
The same week however, on page eight of the Guardian we are told that when Christopher Alder died face down in a police station in Hull in 1998, he was surrounded by police making monkey noises. In a letter to his sister, the CPS reported that ‘it is not possible to infer that there was a racist motivation here’. This, less impressive judicial decision is far from the front page – ‘black deaths do not have a good press’. Injustice was a way of exposing the long and continuing history of (black) deaths in custody where a politically correct rather than a politically [engaged?] press had not been adequate. Exploring the press’ handling of the cases featured in the Injustice provides a way of understanding the sticky politics of reporting deaths in custody and may open up a space in which to re-view the cases.
Whilst it is probably a truism for those involved in the campaigns for justice of people who have died in police custody, it is worth noting at the outset a point all too often forgotten when Britain celebrates the freedom of its press and the quality of its news, that is:
‘The media do not simply and transparently report events which are ‘naturally’ newsworthy in themselves. ‘News’ is the end product of a complex process which begins with a systematic sorting of events and topics according to a socially constructed set of categories’ (Hall et al 1978:53).
Deaths in custody are reported within a wider media context of black deaths, which more often than not, are associated with crime, gangs and drugs. The furore over guns from the ghettos at the concerts of the So Solid Crew was synchronous with the trial of the killers of schoolboy Damilola Taylor. And, whilst providing stark contrast to one another, together portrayed a kind of black underworld where, as the Guardian noted, ‘Gun crime in London is at an all-time high, and black violence against black people of particular concern, with 21 deaths last year’. A few months later, rising crime rates were the front cover of all the national press, and the shadow home secretary announced that ‘everyone on the estates in our inner cities knows…it is gangs and drug dealers rather than the forces of law and order that are in charge’ (Guardian 12/7/2002).
When gangs and drug dealers have been repeatedly inferred as being black, the violence of the police force towards to black people, or the disproportionate figures of black deaths in custody can be seen not as racism but rather as the inevitable result of black criminality. This might be one of the ‘socially constructed set of categories’ within which black deaths in police custody are reported, or not. And what it effectively creates is the idea that the force of the police is ‘reasonable’. However, when the controversial stop and search laws make it five times more likely to be stopped if you are black, then already there is a disproportionate chance that in being stopped, the police feel that a certain degree of force is reasonable. Indeed race and crime are so closely associated by the media that the Guardian chose to quote the Voice editor calling for more stop and search in the face of rising street crime and gun related offences,
‘Most people would prefer not to be stopped and searched, but increasing crime is warranting that and the majority of people who have nothing to hide won’t mind very much’ (Guardian 5/3/2002).
So, Mike Best, portrayed as a spokesperson for black people, has reiterated the most cunning of media tricks, creating the functional equivalent of the deserving and undeserving poor. The emphasis is shifted from the fact that stop and search, undertaken by a self confessed ‘institutionally racist’ police force is a dubious and dangerous tactic. And again, it obfuscates the fact that people stopped and searched, such as Brian Douglas, or arrested on suspicion of robbery such as Wayne Douglas, are dead. It is not even that the people who ‘have nothing to hide’ always get off lightly. Moreover, following the theme of the deserving and undeserving, a great deal of post-Macpherson media spin has played on the idea that the police are now too afraid of being accused of being racist that they won’t stop black people. The delight with which the nation mimicked Ali G’s ‘Is it cos I is black?’ was a serious indicator of how little the term ‘institutionally racist’ had been taken seriously and, like Mike Best, black M.P Paul Boateng was showcased demanding that:
‘The power [of stop and search] cannot be removed – it is a vital tool in the armoury of the police. We must never lose sight in our response to the Lawrence report what brought it about – a gang of thugs on the street obsessed by knives. The police must have the power to stop and search for knives’ (Observer 28/2/1999).
In fact this ‘gang of thugs’ were a white racist fraternity and yet stop and search renders black people five times more likely to be stopped. Indeed this kind of neutralisation of the police in the press is common. A crucial aspect of deaths in custody is that, by their very nature they might provoke terror and anger in the public eye as we are forced to ask who can protect us from those who are there to protect us? And yet, deaths in custody have repeatedly been portrayed as almost an inevitability, or the just deserves of a minority of people on the wrong side of the law. An example might be a report of the death of Shiji Lapite that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph which ran:
‘Mr Lapite was arrested outside a nightclub in Stoke Newington, north-east London. During a struggle he was pinned down and his larynx partially crushed. He died of asphyxia and cocaine intoxication.’
In the same way, the Times made sure to note that Brian Douglas was, at the time of his arrest, thought to be ‘under the influence of either drugs or drink’. Whilst the Sunday Telegraph described how, when Joy Gardner’s mouth was gagged with 13 feet of surgical tape, the police had arrived at her home,
‘with an arrest warrant, restraining equipment…and the information that she tried to evade deportation before and had a record of violence’.
This is perhaps the most telling account in that it shows how a criminalised history or an inference of involvement with drugs is a resource that can be used by the police in the same way as an arrest warrant might be. Similarly, both Joy Gardner and Shiji Lapite were described first and foremost as asylum seekers. Read within the context of a media who infamously echoed Enoch Powell’s speech of Britain being ‘flooded’ by immigrants, it is easy to see how these deaths might have been construed.
A demand for information, accountability, and justice that might arise through reporting a death in custody is augmented by an inference of criminality. In these instances, police action no longer, it seems, is under such scrutiny. Middle England, reading the paper over their breakfast can rest assured that it won’t be them on the floor of Stoke Newington police station. Whilst, bombarded with spectacular reports of rising crime, drugs and guns, the police must be justified in their actions.
Looking at the press reports of all of the cases featured in the film exposes a pattern in the press’ handling of both deaths in police custody, and the relationship between black people and (usually violent) crime. When these issues converge, deaths in custody, rather than being an outrageous – and in this sense – morbidly newsworthy issue, become part of publicising the police in favour of ‘mentally unstable’ (Press release from Stoke Newington police the night of Colin Roach’s death in the foyer of the police station) ‘immensely strong’ (Daily Telegraph quoting P.C Wright’s description of Ibrahim Sey 26/1/1996) ‘violent’ (Sunday Telegraph quoting P.C Brian Adam’s description of Joy Gardner 30/11/1997) victims. Such dramatic adjectives are an example of how
‘media forms produce the urban (ghetto) as lawless, anarchic and violent…[and] from pop videos, Hollywood cinema, American police series and surveillance videos, the black male body has been an object of scrutiny’(Sharma and Sharma 2000:109).
Victims who have died in custody are somehow posed as Goliaths to the Metropolitan’s Davids whose political and technological strength is creatively overlooked. The figure of the big, black dangerous criminal becomes mythical and the police can be posed as heroes, risking their own safety to keep the streets safe.
An example of this use, by the police, of the media might be found in a report such as that in the Daily Telgraph whose headline was ‘Met officers to be given body armour and C.S gas’. Here, the death of Brian Douglas, following his arrest is noted within the context of police deaths. The article reads:
‘all members of the metropolitan police are to be issued with body armour in the wake of gun attacks that have left seven officers dead in the past five years’.
The implosion of Brian’s death with the death of police officers seems to suggest three key themes. Firstly that death is inevitable within police work. Secondly, that the death of a police officer on duty might be equivalent to the death of a citizen who is, for any reason, stopped by the police. And, thirdly, that the death of an officer is enough to warrant the introduction of more repressive measures [technologies?]. It is the press who have juxtaposed the stories of Brian Douglas death and the police death and, in doing so, have occluded the seriousness of both the frequency and similarity in the death in custody cases. The 1000 deaths since 1969 are not of course, juxtaposed with the 7 police deaths in 5 years, a statistic that might put the police death rate into some kind of perspective.
Breaking up the continuity of black deaths in police custody through intermittent reporting distracts the public from the chilling similarities in the cases. Beyond that however, for those families, friends and allies involved in campaigning for justice, the press’ spectacularisation of particular cases is extremely damaging. It sets up a dis-jointed politics where alliance must be traded for sympathy. Whilst the Guardian headline of a report into the death of Roger Sylvester was ‘Another death in custody, another family mourns’ (24/1/1999), what the article actually stressed was to not see the death as another of the same. Yet again, another family mourns, and yet ‘they are wary…of Roger Sylvester’s death becoming another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case’. The fact is that in many respects, the death is already another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case. The depoliticising of yet ‘another death in custody’ happens through the emotiveness of a family, in obvious disbelief, who, it was reported, in response to questions over a demonstration held outside the High Court said, ‘it had nothing to do with us’.
Along similar divisive lines, a large part of a BBC Newsnight report after the death of Michael Menson in Stoke Newington police station in 1983 was given over to P.C Paul Pacey, who demanded that:
‘you go out and talk to those people on the streets, just in the normal course of your duty and they’ll…talk to you about the police and about what happens to you back at Stoke Newington station…and they’ll say, “things happen to you back there” and you’ll say “well what?”, “well, I’ve heard stories…”, “Well, who off?”, “Well, people”, “ Has it happened to you?” “Well, no…” And its very hard to find. In fact I can’t find these people its happening to’.
Death in custody becomes the urban myth of a paranoid black community rather than a serious and discrediting narrative in the history of Stoke Newington police station. Injustice found the families and friends of ‘these people its happening to’ and in calibrating the deaths that have occurred over the last thirty years fill in the gaps left by the media.
These gaps are, it seems, so easily maintained because the usual model of reporting is impossible. When death occurs in the ‘custody of our custodians’ what ‘actually happened’ is only known by the police involved. The ‘news’ of a death in custody is framed by information given by a whole brigade of officials from the police, to the police coroners, to the Crown Prosecution Service, to the Police Complaints Authority into the nature of the death. Stuart Hall (et al) has noted that,
‘what is most striking about crime news is that it very rarely involves a first-hand account of the crime itself…Crime stories are almost wholly produced from the definitions and perspectives of the institutional primary definers’ (1978:68).
Within this are assumptions about the relationship between race and crime, crime and violence and violence and state-protection. So, from a pre-established context, it is really only the police who have a voice on a particular case. This process may be highlighted by the extent to which the press uses direct quotes from the police officers involved in the deaths. Cloaked in the officialdom of their speaking position, deeply subjective descriptions are used:
‘P.C Wright : “He [Shiji Lapite] was immensely strong. I was in fear for my life and P.C Macullum’s life”…P.C Wright believed the suspect’s “tremendous strength” might have been the effect of crack cocaine’ (Daily Telegraph 26/1/1996).
‘“She [Joy Gardner] was the most violent woman I have ever encountered”, said P.C Brian Adam’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997).
There is no space for counter comment – for an opposing claim. Both the ‘facts’ of the death and opinion or comment are given by the state. Disentangling this tightly woven knot of (mis) information becomes the private struggle of each family rather than a public and publicised campaign. The silencing of Injustice is another thread in this cloth, where each time a screening was due to take place, the cinema was threatened by the Metropolitan police lawyers. In privileging the voice of the state over and above the voice of those harmed by the state, the media reaffirms the position of an institutionally racist police.
‘we are now at the very heart of the inter-relationships between the control culture and the ‘signification culture’…In this moment, the media – albeit unwittingly, and through their own ‘autonomous’ routes – have become effectively an apparatus of the control process itself – an ‘ideological state apparatus’(Hall et al 1978:76).
Indeed there is a curious levelling mechanism that needs to go on with cases of death in custody. The Metropolitan police, especially after the Stephen Lawrence case, has worked incredibly hard on its image. It is almost as if the sympathy of the press is needed in direct proportion with the violence of the police. As Cohen has noted,
‘The more resources allocated to increasing the efficiency of repressive policing, the more manpower has to be poured [in]…to restabilize the public image of the force’ (quoted in Jefferson 1991:171).
A thousand deaths in police custody since 1969 is not a statistic that might enhance the image of the police. The double movement of repression and promotion is mediated by the press who, for example, in reporting the death of Joy Gardner at the hands of police and immigration officers explain how ‘sticky tape was wrapped around her head to stop her biting more officers’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997). The police restraining technologies are laconically justified despite the fact that they were fatal for Joy Gardner. The press have maintained the police framing of the event to such an extent that the possibility of alternative opinions, transgressive questions and redressive actions are edited out. ‘In this lost world of politics without conflict, division or debate, the spin doctors are always right’ (Gilroy 1999:12) and the only sniff of disagreement reported surrounds the suitability of particular technologies in particular cases. The fundamental questions of race, class and institutionalised violence are obscured by the histrionics of endless police reviews.
Relying on a benevolent media however, also has its dangers and limitations, precluding the politics and economics of why there are deaths in custody and of why black people are five times more likely to die in custody. A sympathetic press may have its own agenda within the status quo. In a global and historical level, the story of Stephen Biko, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody in South Africa in 1977 is best known perhaps by the film Cry Freedom, which, instead of telling the story of Biko, actually tells the story of Donald Woods, a sympathetic white journalist who tried to expose the killing of Biko in police custody. We can see that the story becomes one of a sympathetic white media rather than of the political economy of black death within the apartheid regime. The connections between the media as an apparatus of the state are eroded in portraying a laudable exception to the rule. Similarly, the problem of the media’s treatment of death in custody can not possibly be solved by having more black journalists, just as the police won’t stop being racist if there are more black officers. As Hall has pointed out,
‘The media do not only possess a near monopoly over ‘social knowledge’, as the primary source of information about what is happening; they also command the passage between those who are ‘in the know’ and the structured ignorance of the general public’ (1978:64).
Alternative media such as Injustice, made in collaboration with the families of those killed and screened in cinemas, social centres, political meetings and festivals reconstitute the desiccated narratives of deaths in custody. Marxists are not imagining things when they note that the ideological state apparatus of the mainstream media will always voice the opinions of the ruling classes. Hoping for a sympathetic report is, it seems, both naïve and insubstantial. However, it is crucial that the press are interrogated, challenged and disturbed by other voices, voices normally excluded from the debates. For deaths in police custody, the problem will always be that the victim is criminalized, and, ‘the criminal by his actions, is assumed to have forfeited, along with other citizenship rights, his ‘right of reply’ (Hall 1978:69). Restoring this right of reply has been, in a sense the project of Injustice. As it traces the struggles of the families of those who died, it recreates the space of comment – it re-collects the testimonies, it redefines the parameters of the debate.
I was recently in an information briefing (which was very useful) about Web of Science and citations/searches. Here are some thoughts on how the system at present breeds conformity. Or at least, this is what I said, pretty much. very slightly odified to remove some names:
On Metrics as Tools
My concern – something I have discussed with a few others – is how there are some serious gaps in the Web of Science coverage for some areas of the social sciences and humanities. I wonder if you are interested in this discussion as well. I think there are a few important things to consider, or if they have been considered, make the thinking clear as to how they have been handled.
I work (and think) in a variety of different ways that sometimes seem to me to be specifically designed to fall between the cracks of the indexes. This started with noting that the journals I really admire, were not making it from ESCI to SSCI, or rather, some were even choosing not to. I don’t think I should say which ones, but a few I have had some reviewing or editorial exchange with have said they are pulling out of the indexing ‘game’ as metrics was both too blunt and too normative. There are also a few things, discussed especially, that were not being indexed. Smaller magazines for example, museum catalogues and artist books, visual research (I had taught ethnographic film for many years) and political pamphlets are falling by the way in the face of a normative centrifugal force.
The blunt version of the argument here is that the new Incites tools do not ‘incite’ enough – but rather encourage heading in the same direction that everyone else is heading in – collaborate with those who are most likely to collaborate with you, cite those who cite you, read those who read you etc. Sure, that perhaps has its merits in terms of group cohesion, but academic work should surely be, at one level at least, not about that at all. It is disagreement and difference we should seek, not everyone heading towards the same spiral of universal chanting “ISI ISI” as if a group of characters from a Thomas Pynchon novel had spring off the page in full riot gear. Doesn’t the tendency to seek out the most popular make it harder for new and novel ideas to get a hearing? At what point do the top citations, top metrics, top index procedures need to be disrupted by ideas might not even be recognised by ‘metrics’? Ideas that disrupt the play of uniformity, conformity, safety and repetition? Obviously, I am setting this out starkly to make the point clear, but I think there is a fundamental problem when we have 50 million papers that are there because, as you said, ‘we want to make the world a better place’ but some could argue that the world is demonstrably becoming less better, or at least a significant set of indicators would suggest that. maybe the 50 million need to not refer more and more to the centre, but seek more and more the alternative, angular, oblique and even opposite/oppositional ideas. Ahh, we are communist after all (though in communism there is also a tendency to centralisation, of course – as I said, overstating to make the point).
What mechanisms can be demonstrated within your presentation, or within the tools, that cater for the need to engage in a ‘ruthless criticism of everything’ as old beardo would have us do. The old man with a beard also saw himself as on the road to science, but that it was no easy path, there was work to be done. What could be entered into the search algorithms to ensure the critiques of normative and even hegemonic ideas in each area are challenged? What mechanisms in the search can be dysfunctional for the ongoing business model that is, frankly, no longer really fit for purpose in a degraded and entropic world…
I would love (ironic and hysterical laughter – cackle cackle hee hee hee) to see some explicit attention to how critical disruptive thinking could be built in as potions for the indexing process. I know indexing cannot be neutral, but can the biases run the other way sometimes? can you say how these questions might be addressed? And what great possibilities would be there if 100 flowers contended with 100 schools of thought in bloom…
Just to confirm that referentiality takes all kinds, my most often cited ISI works (ISI articles cited by ISI journals) show interesting trends. (All available on the download texts link in the sidebar).
So, in 1988 I was evading fieldwork or whatever it was – frankly, I had abandoned the very idea – and was hanging around with a writer whose short stories I had long adored, so much that I wrote to her. Vishwapriya L Iyengar – Vishwa – invited me to visit, cooked food, talked all day and night and into the next day. Talked so food that had been prepared went uneaten. Talked as her partner prepared posters for a Delhi Science Forum demonstration at JNU. And then took me one day by auto to the grounds of some closed I think electric station or even water tank, sort of diagonal from the science institute where there was a concrete T-rex – not far from Triveni. It was late. Delhi was getting cool at last – in those days the air was more like air, yet still it grew misty as the night closed in and the car horns muffled on. Anyway, we were there to meet some people who turned out to be rehearsing a play – workshopping roles, and joining in as the top-hatted factory boss. This was a performance for the picket line, theatre to be taken into factories. Shy, very clumsy, and not a little self-conscious, it was made all the more fun by a woman who turned out to be one of the organisers making fun, and in banter and laughter the mosquitoes did not seem to big a deal (until we stopped). Then food in tiffin tins, late into the night talk about all the theory of the world etc. In those days I was read up on D-school sociology.
It was about two weeks before Christmas, then Safdar was killed on 1 January. I left the next day thinking that there was too much I could not understand in India.
Books like this one planned by Sudhanva Deshpande for LeftWord show just how true that was. I am looking forward to reading more. No matter how much sociology you read, going to have a look for yourself is better, but harder.
There is more – click the link:
The Journey of ‘Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi’, Part 1
The Journey of ‘Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi’, Part 1
It was towards the end of July that the author, serial hashtagger and indulgent ‘Boss’, Sudhanva Deshpande, began sharing updates on the book’s progress on Facebook. Occupied with all kinds of tasks at LeftWord, Vaam Prakashan, and Studio Safdar – over and above the writing of the book – he could hardly be expected to sit down and talk to us about it. These updates were all we had as we grew more and more impatient.
Read on. There’s a lot here that didn’t make it into the final text. (Click on the sub-heads to see the individual Facebook posts.)
Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi will be out on January 1, 2020. Do join us for the book launch at Jhandapur that day.
I’m writing a book on Safdar Hashmi, Jana Natya Manch, street theatre, political activism, and the attack that resulted in Safdar’s and Ram Bahadur’s death. I’m going through Safdar’s papers. And every time it gets a little heavy, Safdar amuses me with his little doodles.
… and later that day
More doodles by Safdar Hashmi. Sometimes I want to say: Stop it Safdar, stop distracting me, can’t you see I’m working?
There is more:
Your article, What did you do in the war? Revisiting the WW2 memoirs of Stoker Thomas Mouat Tate, published in History and Anthropology, Volume 30 Issue 5, is now available for you to access via tandfonline.com.
Have you used your free eprints yet?
Now you’re published, you’ll hopefully want to share your article with friends or colleagues. Every author at Routledge (including all co-authors) gets 50 free online copies of their article to share with their networks. Your eprint link is now ready to use and is:
WordPress started counting text downloads of articles in July this year. Interesting stat.
So the books get quite a few
26 for Pantomime Terror 2014
But just the occasional hit for individual papers like:
6 for Semi-Feudal Cyber Colonalism (on the multimedia super corridor 1999)
and just the 1 for poor old The Authority of Style (first serious essay published 1987)
Unfortunately, Icannot easily cut and paste all the totals, but some are in the hundreds (thanks) and most of the papers are here.
An International Conference at Ton Duc Thang University October 4-5, 2019
Innovations are the key. In method and analysis, in the ways in which scholarship engages with society and organisations today, there can be no doubting the relevance of the social science and humanities to all our pressing questions. The Innovations discussed at the conference challenged our thinking. The topics were wide-ranging and varied, the approaches distinctly alive; some of the papers demonstrated a vivid combination of theoretical and practical research, some were insistently in a humanities’-oriented style, others more forthright and strictly social science, and still others experimented with the form and tone of the social sciences. Perhaps while bringing new methods to Vietnam, the creativity of the social sciences and relevance of the humanities for contemporary understanding was brought out even more by the diversity of themes and perspectives. Of course the traditional scholarship of the social sciences was also represented, but in writing that has an urgency and verve that excited discussion.
See the conference reported on TV news HTV9:
The featured keynotes included a powerfully engaging presentation from Professor Stephen Muecke of Flinders University Australia. Prof Muecke is a hugely important voice in cultural studies and theorist of notions of the cultural landscape and ways of reading cultural relations between settler and Aboriginal Australia. His explanation of the walking method innovated by Aboriginal traditional landholders will inspire reflection and new practices, and perhaps some in Vietnam will want to take up the invitation of Aboriginal elder Paddy Roe to visit Western Australia and walk the ancient dreaming tracks near Broome with his family.
A keynote lecture by Professor Joyce Liu from National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, on new methods of inter-Asian joint and multi-site research inaugurated a perspective on political and cultural research that promises new opportunities for collaboration and debate across borders. She spoke with an engagement that should never be sacrificed in scholarship while there are so many urgent and relevant issues upon which scholars must comment as the leading presenters of, explorers of, and advocates for ideas.
The conference as a whole addressed debates about why innovation and new methods in the social sciences and humanities in Vietnam are needed. This was to respond to clear demands within Vietnam for such methods and enthusiasms (perspectives of a number of Government and non-Government agencies have supported this with relevant statements, such as the government Global Challenges position papers in 2018, and the work of independent research units like Social Life). Mild Hombrebueno from the Philippines said she had ‘learnt a lot from the conference, built new networks, friendships and linkages’ and claimed enthusiastically:
‘I have been to other international conferences, but so far, this is the best experience I’ve ever had. The host university and the organizing committee were so accommodating even up to the last leg of the program. It was indeed full of intellectual discussions, where I made many realizations’
Participatory development projects need a new lease of life and a major rethink – and this was provided by Professor Ursula Rao from the University of Leipzig in Germany as she explored new thinking on the challenges of development in anthropology.
Ms Hombrebueno again commented:
‘meeting with Prof. Rao and her advocacy on Shaping Asia is just so exciting one! I am grateful [to have] the chance to be with the team’
Professor Elaine Carey from Purdue NorthWest in Indian a, USA, spoke on women and research on drugs in the archive, the depredations of the war on drugs and the lives of women drug lords were fascinating topics, with side excursions into the interests of American author William Burroughs and images from the press of mid-20th century Mexico and South America. The thinking here was deep as well as a gripping story – if there are no short cuts and no easy solutions, we are challenged at least to think hard – and it is also an inspiration to hear how we can also care about writing well, and hear this from the leading international scholars of our times.
See the conference reported on TV news HTV9:
“‘There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism‘” (Walter Benjamin Illuminations)
William Burroughs’ annotated Boys Scout’s manual has been reissued, and I am waiting for it to arrive so I can have another go a trying to reconcile the whole boy scout thing. Militarism in the blood by dint of generations of just doing what kids do when their fathers did it before them. The dodgy old hyphenated, Colin Baden-Powell had invented the concentration camp in Mafeking during the Boer War too. Can’t say a Boy Scout history is a reason to be proud. I first heard of the Burroughs manual from Mick T, so I rifled through an old travel diary into which a news clipping was folded. It included a photograph of five young Americans in combat gear beside a ‘Homeland Security’ bus. From the front page of the New York Times I collected it on May 13 2009 when last visiting Mick in New York. The image caught my eye and I recall this was the same day when newly discovered atrocity photos from CIA ‘facilities’ in Afghanistan and Iraq were to be published but were censored so as to avoid undermining the war effort and the troops at the front.[i] Anxious excuses were conjured for spin and impression management… Instead, we got the 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 long-time missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and fire-fighters. Rereading the text ten years on is bracing, and Burroughs does not help the dark forebodings of the text.
“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.” (New York Times, 13 May 2009)
Blocking the atrocity images, then president Obama said he would fight any release of the new set of detention images,[ii] backpeddling from an earlier ‘release them all’ position after a word from Pentagon chiefs. This old strategy or submerging truth is reported on the same front page as the scouting story). But the bus picture contains a curious quirky little detail. Look at the line of action-figure scouts in the shot. The very last one doesn’t seem to think the situation is all that real. 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 New York Times’ photographer or picture editor 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 pantomime fun. We are assured that ‘the training … is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting’. OK.
Meanwhile, collected from the same paper, another photograph of another line of troops had caught my eye – commemorating the body of a soldier being returned to the US. RIP Michael P Yates, killed by one of his own in the counselling tent.[iii] The televised reporting of the return of troop bodies was of course suppressed by the previous President, Bush W, but the correspondence between the line of Explorer scouts and the solemn line of the troops in the second picture is poignant. (The death toll of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan topped 5000 soon after). 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 the notorious torture technique known as water boarding. The text of the ad takes on its own special rhetoric 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 New York Times.
The Scouts, as spawn of Sir Colin Baden-Powell, cannot be disassociated from the logic that developed the detention camp at Mafeking. Be Prepared. I remember this slogan and the implication of youthful disciplining, as is surely true for anyone who was a scout (sure, it was mostly fun of course, smoking behind the troop hall). My grandfather in the UK and father in the Ukraine were also enthusiastic adventurers. William Burroughs might have been a safer bet as father figure.
[i] New York Times, 13 May 2009
[ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/politics/14photos.html?scp=6&sq=obama&st=cse accessed 13 May 2009
[iii] curiously, the image is not reproduced in the online version of the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/14victims.html accessed October 20 2009.
People got wishful thinking a lot, and I am always for breaking the borders, but as this can be read from afar, I reckon yes, but the prognosis offered below by Hardt and Negri back in the Empire day ends up objectively anti-communist – the wrong side is lauded as abandoning the discipline of the system. What if rather, all the exploited under capitalism had pushed at the wall the other way, the former soviet block might not be a pit of cowboy corruption and proto-fascist gangsterism, but rather a renewal – walls can fall both ways, and maybe H&N were pushing the wrong way. I don’t mean everyone should now move to Mexico, but abandoning the shopping centre queues in favour of a Leninist discipline supporting an organised alternative to empty glitz is a long term better solution for all rather than this multitude exodus which does tend to me to sound a bit like Pol Pot’s year zero as well.
“A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration. All the powers of the old world are allied in a merciless operation against it, but the movement is irresistible. Along with the flight from the so-called Third World there are flows of political refugees and transfers of intellectual labor power, in addition to the massive movements of the agricultural, manufacturing, and service proletariat. The legal and documented movements are dwarfed by clandestine migrations: the borders of national sovereignty are sieves, and every attempt at complete regulation runs up against violent pressure. Economists attempt to explain this phenomenon by presenting their equations and models, which even if they were complete would not explain that irrepressible desire for free movement. In effect, what pushes from behind is, negatively, desertion from the miserable cultural and material conditions of imperial reproduction; but positively, what pulls forward is the wealth of desire and the accumulation of expressive and productive capacities that the processes of globalization have determined in the consciousness of every individual and social group—and thus a certain hope. Desertion and exodus are a powerful form of class struggle within and against imperial postmodernity. This mobility, however, still constitutes a spontaneous level of struggle, and, as we noted earlier, it most often leads today to a new rootless condition of poverty and misery. A new nomad horde, a new race of barbarians, will arise to invade or evacuate Empire. Nietzsche was oddly prescient of their destiny in the nineteenth century. ‘‘Problem: where are the barbarians of the twentieth century? Obviously they will come into view and consolidate themselves only after tremendous socialist crises.’’ We cannot say exactly what Nietzsche foresaw in his lucid delirium, but indeed what recent event could be a stronger example of the power of desertion and exodus, the power of the nomad horde, than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the entire Soviet bloc? In the desertion from ‘‘socialist discipline,’’ savage mobility and mass migration contributed substantially to the collapse of the system. In fact, the desertion of productive cadres disorganized and struck at the heart of the disciplinary system of the bureaucratic Soviet world. The mass exodus of highly trained workers from Eastern Europe played a central role in provoking the collapse of the Wall. Even though it refers to the particularities of the socialist state system, this example demonstrates that the mobility of the labor force can indeed express an open political conflict and contribute to the destruction of the regime. What we need, however, is more. We need a force capable of not only organizing the destructive capacities of the multitude, but also constituting through the desires of the multitude an alternative. The counter-Empire must also be a new global vision, a new way of living in the world… If in a first moment the multitude demands that each state recognize juridically the migrations that are necessary to capital, in a second moment it must demand control over the movements themselves. The multitude must be able to decide if, when, and where it moves. It must have the right also to stay still and enjoy one place rather than being forced constantly to be on the move. The general right to control its own movement is the multitude’s ultimate demand for global citizenship. This demand is radical insofar as it challenges the fundamental apparatus of imperial control over the production and life of the multitude. Global citizenship is the multitude’s power to reappropriate control over space and thus to design the new cartography.”
Thanks J Adams for the reminder of this bit of Empire
My longe essay critiquing Empire is here
Screen Violence and Partition
Inter Asia Cultural Studies
(Not sure if you need to make an account to get these, but it works for me):
CLIFFORD GEERTZ AS A CULTURAL SYSTEM: A Review Article
SAFE || Eruptions: NYC MustTagAliens
Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Brenda Iijima, Delores Jones-Brown, Diana Taylor, Gil Anidjar, Gregory Fried, Hamid Dabashi, John Hutnyk, Linda Martín Alcoff, Steven Pludwin, Daniel Skinner and Sunita Viswanath
Critique of Exotica: Music, Politics and the Culture Industryby J. Hutnyk
The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity, and the Poverty of Representationby John Hutnyk
The chapatti story: how hybridity as theory displaced Maoism as politics in Subaltern Studies
Brimful of agitation, authenticity and appropriation: Madonna’s ‘Asian Kool’
Book reviews : The Cambridge Survey of World Migration Edited by ROBIN COHEN (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995) 570pp. 75.00
Marx writes to document the outrages committed by the British in retaliation for the uprising in 1857:
“The Punjaub is declared to be quiet, but at the same time we are informed that ‘at Ferozepore, on the 13th of June, military executions had taken place’ while Vaughan’s corps – 5th
Punjaub Infantry – is praised for ‘having behaved admirably in pursuit of the
55th Native Infantry’. This, it must be confessed, is very queer sort of ‘quiet’”
Isn’t this sort of reading of British troop action as an archival trace of something more significant that ‘provoked’ the reactions of the British exactly the sort of reading strategy that the founding Subaltern Studies scholars like Ranajit Guha suggested as critical historical method?
Rereading Jay Murphy’s book Artaud’s Metamorphosis and thinking about the 30,000 pages of notes Marx is said to have written in the last ten years of his life – and which are only slowly being released through the MEGA. Then find Jay has the following on page 207:
Artaud’s last works are above all, an action, a setting of forces into motion. In examining how he accomplishes this, largely from the springboard of the copious 406 lined school notebooks of which there are some more than 30,000 pages, at times there is the temptation to mimic his method by fracturing the field, separating out the elements that come into conflict, such as sound image text, or even their constituent bodily sources, and it is by such recourse that I isolate the treatment of the face and the voice at the end of this chapter; to see better how they interact, meld, hover, disintegrate or invade other elements…
I won’t reproduce his analysis because the whole book needs to be bought, and the notes still need to be written, but along with Walter Benjamin’s obsession with certain notebooks, whatever was in that case, add also anthropology’s note-writing fix exemplified in Mick Taussig’s drawings for I swear I saw This, and the entire complex of more or less uncanny parallels that revolve around the lined page, schoolbook or not, I’m hankering to generate some sort of method for handling the detritus of the (allegedly) declining years. Plus starting a new journal for my eldest now.
Pretty excited to find parts of the FilmIndia archive online, especially 1948 with a (idiosyncratic) review of Sunny’s Mela (stars Nargis and Dilip Kumar). Also I am quite taken by the concept of ’emotional masochism’ used to describe the film. Other films reviews are in a caustic tone, with the phrase ‘hotch-potch’ appearing in at least three article titles I read, and ‘hotch-potch of coincidences’ possibly the most often repeated phrase. But great details, covers, and things not to be forgotten. Full credit for making this available (John McElwee donation to the Media History Digital Library, scanned from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art Library). A lock on resources, but opened up a little, thanks heaps.
Tracking down the old man’s arrival records from Europe to Australia. He was a violent drunken shit, but I do appreciate at least his refrain about how we should have no regard for anyone who thinks that workers can’t read literature or that ‘these books are not for the likes of us’. School was not the only place to learn also, but all people should get into the school/library/gallery without any kind of entry bar. He valued university of life education in the wildest sense. He carried his encyclopaedias out of our burning house (when I was four) rather than lose them, along the way sacrificing his immigration records and Euro identity papers etc to the bushfires (perhaps for good reason, I dread to discover).
Anyway, on the track of his records, I think I’ve found his 1950 arrival data – perhaps to Bonegilla (hi Glenda Sluga) and later to the Snowy scheme. There’s this helpful write up, to be absorbed also for its contrast to current Australian camp policy:
List with agency/person recording
Series details for: A12051
Migrant Selection Documents for Displaced Persons who travelled to Australia per Hellenic Prince departing Naples 4 December 1950
1950 – 1950
1950 – 1950
Items in this series on RecordSearch
All items from this series are entered on RecordSearch.
1950 – 1950CA 51, Department of Immigration, Central Office
18 Sep 2013 – CA 9431, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Central Office – Immigration
Quantity and location
3.06 metres held in ACT
System of arrangement/ control
Multiple number with occasional ‘R’ prefix
Range of control symbols
1-2 to 1000; R3 to R230-R233
Predominant physical format
PAPER FILES AND DOCUMENTS
Function and Purpose
This series consists of Migrant Selection Documents for Displaced Persons who travelled to Australia on the ship ‘Hellenic Prince’ departing Naples on 3 December1950 and arriving in Melbourne 10 January 1951.
Displaced Persons Scheme
At the end of the Second World War, many hundreds of thousands of people who had been brought to Germany from occupied countries to labour in German industry were unable or unwilling to return to their homelands which were occupied by the army of the USSR (mainly Poland and the Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in addition to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia).
These people came under the care of the International Refugee Organization (IRO). They were screened, given the status of Displaced Person and housed in camps in Germany, Italy and Austria.
On 21 July 1947, the Commonwealth Government entered into an agreement with the IRO for the resettlement of European Displaced Persons in Australia. This scheme was subsequently known as the DP Group Resettlement (or ‘Mass Resettlement’) scheme.
Under this agreement, the IRO undertook responsibility for provision of transport (at its own cost) and the care of the Displaced Persons until their disembarkation in Australia. The Commonwealth undertook selection in Europe and responsibility for reception in Australia, placement in employment and care after arrival of all members of the family unit. Unlike the DP schemes already operating in the United States, Canada and various South American countries, the prospective emigrant did not need to secure personal sponsorship from a relative or friend already resident in the country, or from a welfare society, who undertook to provide support (in the way of accommodation and sustenance after their arrival and until they were self-supporting). Instead, in Australia, the government itself would fulfil this role, an important difference that caused the Australian scheme to be regarded with favour by the IRO, despite the costs involved in transporting the refugees such a great distance. (Conversely, some DPs favoured Australia as a destination precisely because it was so remote from Europe.)
During the lifetime of the DP Scheme, the Australian government’s official representation in Germany was the Australian Military Mission in Berlin, which presided over the recruitment activities by Australian Migration personnel. From 1948, the Migration Branch of this office was headquartered separately in Cologne, with the Selection Teams being accommodated at various locations in the British and American zones of Germany. They were heavy dependent for their operations on the goodwill and cooperation of the British and American military authorities since all basic needs such as accommodation food, transport and communications came from this source.
Eligibility for selection was based initially on standards of age, physical fitness and the ability to do manual work. At first, Australia expressly targeted single Baltic people. However, as the scheme progressed, and this limited source dried up, the target groups widened. In the next two years, while the emphasis on fitness to undertake manual work remained, restrictions on nationality, marital status and composition of family groups were gradually relaxed until, in April 1949, the scheme was extended to include all European nationals whose Displaced Person status was recognised by the IRO. (The status of DP was stringently tested; the conditions of eligibility occupy eight pages of the Constitution of the IRO.)
All applicants within the worker age limits under this scheme undertook to remain in the employment found for them by the Commonwealth for a period of two years from the date of their arrival, and their continued residence in the Commonwealth was subject to their observing this undertaking. At the end of this period, these conditions of entry were revoked and the DPs effectively became permanent residents with the normal rights of citizens to live and work where they chose.
To meet its responsibilities under the agreement, and to ensure an appropriate environment for the reception of the DPs, and for their absorption into the community, the Commonwealth set up its own Reception and Training Centres at Bonegilla in Victoria, Bathurst and Greta in New South Wales, Graylands in West Australia and Woodside in South Australia. At these centres, the new arrivals were again medically examined and x-rayed and interviewed individually to assess their employment potential, within the limited range of the government’s intent; men had been recruited to work as labourers and unskilled workers, women as domestics, nurses and typists. Generally, any professional qualifications and technical skills the DPs possessed were ignored.
During their stay in the Reception and Training Centres, usually about three or four weeks, the DPs were given a course of instruction in utilitarian English and the Australian way of life. During this time, they were paid a special social service benefit from which an amount was deducted towards the cost of their upkeep. (Migrants under this scheme were eligible to receive health and medical service benefits, sickness and unemployment benefits, Maternity Allowance and Child Endowment.)
Subsequently, as the scheme progressed, many other accommodation centres for dependants of workers were established in many locations, from Cairns in North Queensland to Cunderdin in West Australia.
After a slow start, owing to the shortage of suitable shipping (there was only the one voyage in 1947, and sixteen voyages in 1948), there was a great expansion of the program when more shipping became available in 1949. In that year, the number of ships on charter to the IRO peaked at forty (exactly half were USATs) and there were seventy-eight DP voyages to Australia. Despite a change of government in Australia (which removed from the scene the personal drive and commitment of Minister Calwell and installed a new ministry which favoured traditional British migration), the program continued at a high level through 1950 and 1951, but decreased as the IRO neared the end of its mandated existence.
When the IRO wound up its activities in early 1952, there were still many Displaced Persons in camps in Europe who had already been accepted for migration to Australia under the DP Mass Resettlement scheme and whose passages had still to be arranged. This migration continued until late 1953 (under the auspices of the International Committee for European Migration – ICEM), usually by placing small numbers of people on ships carrying migrants under other schemes, or on a scheduled commercial service, rather than on ships chartered solely to carry DPs, as done previously. The last arrival occurred in September 1953, bringing the total number of arrivals under this scheme to approximately 170,700 persons.
Most of the voyages originated in Bremerhaven, Germany. In the middle period, many Displaced Persons were transported to Naples, Italy, by train, from Germany and Austria. Other occasional ports of origin were Genoa, Nordenham (near Bremerhaven) and Rotterdam on the Atlantic coast, and Genoa, Venice, Trieste and Piraeus in the Mediterranean. A few voyages collected further DPs en route form camps in Lebanon and Egypt (mostly Yugoslavs) and one voyage collected Polish DPs from a camp in Kenya, East Africa. The department attempted to alternate the arrivals between Melbourne and Sydney to even out the flow of new arrivals to Bonegilla and Bathurst centres, respectively, with limited success. Occasionally, a ship was directed to disembark passengers at Fremantle, Adelaide or Newcastle, usually as a result of specific employment opportunities in these areas.
During the course of the scheme, in late 1950 and early 1951, a small number of persons, mostly pregnant women or elderly dependents, were flown by chartered aircraft from Europe to Australia. Almost all of these flights departed from Bremen or Rome.
There were also some arrivals both by ship and aircraft from a DP camp in the Philippines. These DPs were former Russian nationals who had been evacuated to the Philippines from Shanghai in early 1949.
(Many other persons who had been DPs in Europe migrated to Australia during these years as privately sponsored migrants; not under the government sponsored Mass Resettlement scheme. This is particularly the case for Jewish DPs sponsored by the Australian Jewish Welfare Society (AJWS) and the American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC). These organisations were active in France and many of these voyages, by ships such as ‘Derna’, ‘Napoli’ and ‘El Soudan’, originated from Marseilles. There are files on these voyages in the Immigration Departments series A434; but, as the DPs involved were not recruited or selected by the Australian government officials, there are no migration selection documents for these people as there are for arrivals under the Mass Resettlement Scheme.)
The Ship and the Voyage
The ship ‘Hellenic Prince’ was chartered by the IRO to transport DPs to Australia. This voyage was her fourth DP voyage to Australia departing Naples on 3 December1950 and arriving in Melbourne 10 January 1951 carrying 953 DPs. The majority were mostly from Europe, Poland and the Baltic countries, in addition to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia and were composed of single males, single females, married couples and family groups.
Nominal Roll Nos 817-819 the Komlosy family disembarked at Colombo.
Nominal Roll Nos 855-857 the Bondarew family, disembarked at Suez.
The passengers disembarked and were transported by special train to the Department of Immigration Reception and Training Centre, Bonegilla departing from the ship’s side at 8:50 am and 9:50 am on 11 January 1951.
The Nominal Roll
A ship’s nominal roll is a list of all the passengers on board when the ship or aircraft departed from its port of departure.
A schedule of selected DPs for a particular voyage was assembled over some weeks by the Australian Migration Selection teams moving from one camp to another, interviewing potentially eligible DPs who had nominated for resettlement in Australia. Consequently, the schedule is first arranged under the heading of the camp and then by category of persons selected at that camp; that is, whether the DPs were single males, single females, married couples, etc. The names were normally listed alphabetically within each of these categories. When the schedule was complete (according to the passenger capacity of the particular ship), each person listed was allocated a number starting from number 1 for the first entry on the schedule and going through in one sequence to the last entry. The final form of the schedule of selected DPs thus became the ship’s nominal roll, and the allocated number against the entry for each person in the schedule was referred to as his or her nominal roll number.
At this point, the roll was typed up (in multiple copies) as the finalised list of approved migrants. However, there were often subsequent deletions (the names are still visible but are crossed through, usually in red crayon) as DPs who had been selected to travel had to be cancelled at the last moment, most frequently owing to the illness of a member of the family unit. To prevent the wastage of these available berths, a pool of cases (usually single males) was built up, after a time, at a camp at the point of embarkation (such as Bagnoli in Italy), which could be substituted to take advantage of these vacancies. These substitutes were known as Reserves and they were listed at the end of the existing roll in a new numerical sequence distinguished by an R prefix. Many nominal rolls therefore have two sequences of numbers, the main sequence and a sequence of Reserves.
The personal documents for each person on a voyage, that is, the records of the type which constitute this series (which also were sent to Australia on the same ship ), were arranged in accordance with this numbering scheme. The nominal roll numbers have therefore been adopted as the item control symbols for this series.
Multiple copies of the nominal roll were created in the Migration offices in Europe and accompanied the DPs on the voyage to Australia. On arrival here, copies were distributed to various government departments involved in the exercise, such as Customs and Social Services. A copy of the nominal roll for this voyage can be found in CRS A434, 1950/3/46121.
The same process regarding nominal rolls, and the same terminologies, applied to both ship and aircraft departures.
To aid identification, a considerable amount of personal information about the DP appears in the entry in the nominal roll. In addition to the name and nominal roll number, there was a reference to the CM-1 form (IRO’s record of interview to establish DP status), the actual DP status granted; Nationality, Religion, Marital status, Sex, Date of Birth, Age, Country and Place of Birth, Passport number and Place of Issue, and Occupation.
Given the difficulty for the overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic bureaucracy posed by the unfamiliar Slavic nomenclature, it quickly became standard departmental practice to use the nominal roll number as shorthand for the person. For this reason, the ship’s nominal roll and the person’s individual nominal roll number assumed a particular significance in the control of the records and the administration of the scheme generally.
As the nominal rolls were widely dispersed in departmental records and often difficult to identify, NAA staff have created an artificial series of copies of the nominal roll for each voyage and flight under the DP Mass Resettlement Scheme, registered as CRS A12916.
The records in this series, in general, are those created by the Australian Migration Selection Teams in Germany and Austria; for each person, these consist of two main documents:
A Processing card (5 x 8 inch index card) which shows the applicant’s name, date of birth, sex, nationality, educational standard, fluency of languages, IRO eligibility, documents produced to support identity, address of any relative in Australia, religion, particulars of dependants, any civil offences, literary test result, date of arrival in Germany and from where. On the reverse of the card, there is provision for recording (very briefly) the reason for coming to Germany, recent employment history and suggested employment in Australia; there is also a signed undertaking to abide by the conditions applying to their migration to Australia, and acceptance and signature of Selection Officer.
A large format IRO Medical Examination Form. The front page of the form provides for personal identification and includes the Displaced Person’s name, date of birth, and physical characteristics such as colour of eyes and hair, weight, height and any distinguishing scars or marks. In addition, a passport-style photograph is attached (designed to ensure that the person presenting for the examination was in fact the person described). The remainder of the form provides for recording a succession of medical examinations by the IRO Assembly Centre doctor, the IRO’s Resettlement Centre doctor and finally by the Australian Medical officer attached to the Selection Team. There is often also a chest x-ray negative attached.
There may also be some records which were created by the IRO itself relating to the processing of the application for registration as a DP and for resettlement outside Europe. They contain the same types of personal information as the records described above, but often with more detail and with explanatory statements about points of nationality or ethnicity, or about family relationships.
System of Arrangement and Control
The items of this series are arranged by the nominal roll number, as described above. Generally the records relating to one person constitute one record item. However, in cases where a number of consecutive entries on the nominal roll constitute a family unit, the documents for all members of this family unit are grouped together as one record item (contained in one folder), and the control symbol for this record item is the range of nominal roll numbers of the individual persons. For example, a control symbol of ‘112-115’ indicates there are documents for four members of a family unit within the record item, with nominal roll numbers 112, 113, 114 and 115. Some records in the series include alphabetical prefixes and/or suffixes.
Records for each voyage are controlled as a discrete series.
Language of the material
In most cases, the language of the printed forms and the entered data is English but there is some German, French and other languages represented.
English was the official language of the IRO which, although headquartered in Geneva, was staffed predominantly by British, American and Canadian personnel. Almost all the recruitment action for migration to Australia took place in the British and American zones of German where English was the language of the governing authority (though German was the lingua franca of the DPs themselves). Relatively little recruitment activity took place in the French Zone of Germany (partly because the French government had little enthusiasm for European emigration) and none at all in the Russian Zone. The same comments apply to the situation in Austria.
Relationships with other records
Other original records created by the IRO in Germany and Austria relating to individual DPs are in the custody of the International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen Germany (website at its-arolsen.org). The forms CM-1 contain information derived from the personal interviews which were part of the process of establishing eligibility for DP status and may be of particular value. In general, the archives of the IRO generally are held by the National Archives of France in Paris.
When the DPs arrived in Australia, all persons over the age of 16 years were required to complete an Alien Registration application. These forms are also in the custody of the National Archives and are progressively being added to the RecordSearch database. In general, they do not contain any more personal information than is present in the migrant selection documents.
The Bonegilla cards (CRS A2571) record, along with the usual personal details, the dates of arrival and departure from Bonegilla and the destination on departure. They also have a passport-style photo attached, taken at the camp (that is, not the same photo as can be found on the IRO’s Medical Form).
There is no comprehensive index or other original register of DP records in the custody of NAA. However, the records relating to a particular person can be identified by keyword search, entering the person’s full name, in NAA’s RecordSearch database. Records relating to one voyage are controlled as a discrete series.
As mentioned above, NAA staff created, for reference purposes, an artificial series of copies of each nominal roll of each voyage and flight under the DP Mass Resettlement Scheme. This series is CRS A12916.
As each voyage was about to depart from Europe, the basic records (Processing Card and Medical Examination form) created by the Australian Selection teams for all the persons on that voyage were bundled up and forwarded on the same ship. (The documents for each person were loose, not pinned together or enclosed in a protective cover. Many DPs did not have the nominal roll number endorsed on their papers and were identified only by the names of the applicants.) The bundles were addressed to the Department of Immigration Central office in Canberra, but owing to space constraints in Canberra, the records were held at the Reception Centre in Bonegilla, where a very large quantity of such bundles gradually accumulated, arranged first by the voyage and, within that, by nominal roll number. However, whenever any subsequent issue or action arose in relation to a DP, the selection documents for that person were extracted from their place in this collection and sent to the Immigration Department in Canberra, or elsewhere, as required, where they were incorporated in a case file. There was so much demand for these records that an officer from the department in Canberra was stationed at Bonegilla expressly to deal with it; identifying, locating and forwarding the records as required.
In 1954, when the DP Scheme had ended, the DP records remaining at Bonegilla were transferred to the Department’s Kingston (Canberra) store in preparation for their transfer to the Archives. Despite the depredations that had been made, this was still the bulk of the record collection and was still in the original arrangement by voyage/flight. This material was transferred to the custody of the National Archives on 3 March 1958 and was accessioned as CP533/1. This accession consisted of 979 bundles occupying 354 shelf feet.
Three years later, a number of additional transfers were made. These were documents which had been extracted from the collection at Bonegilla and placed on case files, then subsequently culled from the case file when that file was to be destroyed. All of this material was arranged alphabetically by the persons surname, since often the relevant ship and nominal roll number were not known. A quantity of 49 bundles of this material (21 shelf feet) was transferred on 11 Feb 1961 and subsequently accessioned as CP900/2. A further 152 bundles (68 shelf feet) was transferred on 22 February 1961 and accessioned as CP899/4. In 1969, a further residue of this type of DP material was included with a large transfer of miscellaneous migrant selection documents from various migration schemes, which was accessioned as AA1969/339.
In 1954, the Liquidator for the IRO wrote to the Australian government proposing that the IRO’s records for each DP who had come to Australia should be forwarded to Australia for retention. These records related to the process of registration as a DP, the person’s engagement in the IRO’s Care and Maintenance program in the camps and the application for Resettlement outside of Europe. This documentation was subsequently forwarded from Geneva to Australia and this material was also transferred by the Immigration Department to the custody of the NAA in February, 1961. The quantity was 187 bundles, occupying 69 shelf feet, also arranged alphabetically by surname, and was accessioned as CP900/4. While in the custody of the Department, some documents from this material had also been extracted and used elsewhere, usually in tandem with the Australian-origin documents for the person.
Owing to the very large quantities of records involved and the absence of original control records, no attempt was made at this time to rationalise or to restore the arrangement of these records. Consequently, for the next thirty years, the standard of accessibility to individual DP’s records in the National Archives was very poor.
In 1999, Arrangement and Description section staff of NAA Canberra began a long-term project to restore this very large collection of personal documents (a total of more than 200 metres of densely packed loose documents) to its original arrangement and to enter each record into the RecordSearch database. This project involved researching the history of the DP scheme, identifying the voyages and flights that were made under this scheme, locating in each case a copy of the nominal roll and then identifying each document to a nominal roll entry so that the document’s original order and control could be established, then preserving and foldering the records and entering in the database. The project was completed in late 2002. Further work by Archival Description staff in 2009 resulted in updates to series registrations and series descriptive notes.
As some of the IRO records (accession CP900/4) had already been integrated with Australian-created material in the department, it was decided not to attempt to restore the separate existence of these two sets of records but, instead, to complete the integration so that only one record item would exist for each DP (or family unit.) Accordingly, all of the accessions mentioned above have now been integrated into one standardised arrangement which reflects the original arrangement by voyage/flight and within that by the nominal roll number, and with the IRO origin material, where it exists, present in the same folder.
There is at present a residue of documents which cannot be identified to a nominal roll entry and which at this time are controlled as a separate series, CRS A12685, for the DPs from Europe, and CRS A12701, for those from the Philippines. In addition, there are many nominal roll entries for which no documents were located during this exercise. It is believed these were extracted in the process described above and the case files on which they were placed are still extant. An ongoing exercise is underway to enter the vast quantity of case files in series A446 into the RecordSearch database and it is expected that many of the missing documents will be located during this process.
National Archives of Australia: A446, Correspondence files, annual single number series with block allocations.
Louise Holborn, History of the IRO (OUP London, 1956).
Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, No. 39, 1953 and No. 42, 1956.
Peter Plowman, Australian Migrant Ships 1946 – 1977, Rosenberg Publishing, Sydney 2008.
Peter Plowman, Emigrant Ships to Luxury Liners, NSW University Press, Sydney 1992.
From the vaults, this has been digitised:
‘Calcutta Cipher: Travellers and the City’ in Social Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice, No. 32 (December 1992), pp. 53-65
These guys still owe me roadie fees from 1976 or so (I carried a guitar lead to the back of a van once, and also packed a few pipes in there too) so best they go out on that reunion world tour and make some money!
Arbeit – Freizeit – Schlaf ist das scheinbar in Stein gemeißelte Triumvirat des idealen Alltags im Kapitalismus. Der Mensch stellt seine Arbeitskraft zur Verfügung, um existenzielle Bedürfnisse zu befriedigen, aber auch um sich Sachen leisten zu können, die ihn in seiner Freizeit von der zu ablenken, damit er möglichst schnell wieder bereit für selbige ist. Der britische Kulturwissenschaftler John Hutnyks hat sich in seinem Aufsatz Shopping is Civil War anhand unterschiedlicher Musikvideos mit dem Irrsinn des Shoppings in der warenförmigen Gesellschaft beschäftigt:
SHOPPING IS CIVIL WAR
By John Hutnyk
Six supermarkets featured in six music videos. In different ways, I can see why these clips go together and it is not merely arbitrary. It worries me that all my life seems headed for the aisles; shopping surrounds me with monstrous collections of commodities.
Read the rest here
yep, just like it was ten years ago, its still easy to make a mistake. This is from Nov 2005 on this blog.
[Thanks Kaori for trinkets from Japan].
Alongside Barbara Stanwyck, my other fave mainstream movie star is Burt Lancaster (and though the woman on the beach in this still is, if you did not know, Deborah Kerr, Stanwyck and Lancaster teamed up together in “Sorry, Wrong Number” way back in 1948). As I am on a bit of a Burt tip this month, I watched “The Professionals” (1966) tonight. It is fantastic. Alongside his great “Crimson Pirate”, its one of the huge movies that show that the House Un-american Activities Commission (HUAC) really had a point, there were communists in Hollywood. Kaaabaaan! And it was a good thing too. More arty types might also enjoy Lancaster in Visconti’s very last film, “Conversation Piece” where Burt plays an aging Professor obsessed with trinkets. That kind of appealed to me too. What a trajectory – pirate – revolutionary – art dealer. Its a pity his involvement with the…
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a little bit of nostalgia – what was in when I started secondary school. Holidays in Frankston (!). Suzi Quatro was compulsory listening on a portable cassette player. A connie was a kind of cropped woollen cardi. Staggers were madly wide jeans (wide from the thighs down), bought from Epsteins. The knuckles game shown here towards the end… and the elbows… the dancing… indicate a little of the undercurrent of anger… Remember Lobby Lloyd, but also Hush…
More background = http://www.furious.com/perfect/sharpies.html
It was all downhill after this. traded in the treads (woven sandals with car-tyre soles) and Skyhooks took over, and AC/DC (originals – Bon Scott era), and then later on The Radiators through to Loaded Dice at the Sarah Sands.
– wrote and sent two references for people seeking academic jobs
– got someone an actual job, as an academic
– helped someone else find someone for the job they had on offer (see above)
– helped out with two other people doing funding apps
– coffee (see stain on son’s sleep suit – bad parent)
– had flu jab
– received additional crazed post from someone in need of help I am not qualified to give
– sought advice on the above
– took smallest son with his mom to a cafe, coffee
– walked to work in the rain
– sent out two books – Beyond Borders
– emailed copy of an old paper on overwork to someone, and got into complicated discussion exchange on that – ahh, FB.
– read a draft chapter of someones’ PhD, coffee
– read some of – not enough – the PhD I am currently examining
– read the paper – appalled at the BBC and the softening up process before Leveson
– changed doc appointment time
– tried to move the email list problem on – getting close to fixing it
– helped design a trinkets display feature
– tried yet again to get a response from a certain admin dept that has gone dark on me
– reading for Berlin trip
– scanned copy of Ben Ross article from 15 years ago that seems really relevant now – will post here soon
– more chat with people for the Proletarianization and the River project (on thursday had a good meeting with the archivist at Museum of London Docklands. They are interested in the ideas we bring. Especially that of co-research with local activist groups coming in to the museum to work with the archives and to identify local sites/trinkets that connect up with a co-constituted colonial history with other ports like Calcutta, Canton, Caribbean etc. The same sort of proposal as was welcomed at Maritime, but perhaps even more so since Docklands is planning to reorganise their collection display under a new theme of ‘many East Londons’. Having XTalk, Brick lane Circle and Housing groups as co-researchers can really work with this. The idea will not be that we teach people to do research, but we research with them, alongside their agendas which will be to do with harlots, lascars and squatters etc (XTalk are interested in sex work around the ports, Brick Lane Circle in Bengali sailors who jump ship, Deptford and Stratford Housing in land use.)
– prepared posters for Wednesday’s film – Baba Ratan’s Fair
– corrected start time for tonight’s Fedeici event
– twitter exchange with ex-student from Melbourne (I miss Marios breakfasts)
– prepared materials for PHD progress meeting in dept (which is about to start)
Not a bad morning so far, but again nothing done on my own book. Have at least updated the blog!
Damn, forget to get a sandwich for lunch. Will eat and think about how if we comply with social media’s demand to tell everyone what we are doing all the time we will never do anything. Vanishing up an orifice of our own making…
Still reading Gayatri Spivak’s new book, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. Its difficult, but actually great. I think her argument is somehow (anyhow) to keep working at the patient effortful non-coercive project of education for epistemic change and rearrangement of individual desire (careerism) towards a collective responsibility (planetary perspective), where the wealth of productive capacity would be (re)distributed through real democratic choice founded on aesthetic education (skills of reading, habits of empathy, not jumping to judgement) and critical comportment towards others and for the comfort and care of all (!). Yup, I’ve a ways to go yet.
this one was made by the Nomadic Action Group for the campaign against having the olympics in Melbourne in 1988
To which (via Simon S) we can now add some London related resources:Anarchist alternative art for the Olympics….Report backs on a ‘Countering Olympics’ conference held recently….I guess Occupy Olympics was an obvious alliteration. Not a lot going on here at the moment….….but the powers that be are obviously concerned about this kind of development….http://www.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Britain-Discouraging-Occupy-Style-Protests-Around-Olympics-138064728.htmlAtos Origin is the Games’ IT Partner. (something for Anonymous to look into perhaps?)…..http://www.digitalnewsagency.com/stories/5158-london-2012-and-atos-origin-open-olympic-technology-labDisabled rights protests against Atos and their involvement in the Olympics have already started (nice link to Bhopal too)…..http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/paralympic-protest-atos-out-of-the-olympics/Nothing on the games yet but worth keeping an eye on this group….
A treasure trove (nicked from Chris at 56a):
http://kmfreepress.wordpress.com/ has some paginated ready to print PDFS on all sorts of things:
- Allegory Ruin Crisis
- Communisation: Bring Out Your Dead
- Crisis and Consciousness: Lessons and Reflections from California March 4th
- Critique of Call
- Cultural Revolution – Lotta Continua
- Deleuze, Marx and Politics
- Evacuate The Leftist Bunker
- For An Analysis of Autonomia
- From The Aesthetics of Resistance
- Give Up Activism
- Italy 1970’s: Against the State as Boss
- Italy 1977
- Like A Summer With A Thousand Julys And Other Seasons…
- Memories of John Dennis & Jenny Tells Her Tale
- Of Other Spaces- Heterotopias
- On Terrorism and The State by Sanguinetti
- Plea For An Uncreative City
- Rimbaud – Intermediary Militant
- Self-Managed Health Centres and Feminist Self-Help abortion clinics in 1970′s Italy
- Situationist International and Art
- Spectres of Muntzer At Sunrise – Wu Ming
- The Art of Rent
- The Impotence Of The Revolutionary Group
- The Solar Anus
- The Strategy of Refusal by Mario Tronti
- There’s Only One Thing Left To Settle: Our Accounts With Capital and It’s State
- Through a Glass Darkly: Badiou’s Criticism of Anarchism
- Wrecking You Again For The Very First Time: RNC Protests – St Paul 2008